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Affiliate Websites: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners in 2023

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Exploring the opportunities an affiliate website can offer?

I can’t blame you. With about 82% of brands relying on the affiliate marketing industry, it has become a massive $12 billion industry.

Different affiliate marketing programs pay up to 50% of the product price for directing customers through affiliate links.

You can take a slice of the profit by creating and running an affiliate marketing website.

So, today, let’s focus on affiliate websites, learning about what it is, how it works, and how brands and personnel can participate. You can also find some relevant examples.

What Are Affiliate Websites?

Affiliate websites are online platforms that promote products and services on behalf of the manufacturer, service provider, or advertiser. In exchange, they earn a commission.

Affiliate marketing primarily focuses on selling goods and services. However, affiliate websites can also earn a commission for directing visitors to conduct other profitable actions like signing up for the email newsletter, downloading an app, etc.

Several types of affiliate websites are available, with different platforms publishing specific content to boost revenue. Affiliate marketers often create and publish quality content related to the following:

  • Product Reviews
  • Product Comparisons
  • Niche blogs
  • Periodic magazines
  • Discounts and coupons
  • Seasonal festivities

You can promote any product – physical or digital as long as the product is legal to sell. However, your affiliate network may require you to disclose information regarding the partnership to ensure clarity and authenticity.

However, you must build a loyal readership who regularly visits your site before promoting anything. Building authority in a specific niche so people listen to your opinion is also critical for raising enough sales for adequate revenue.

For example, you must provide valuable tips and information regarding fashion to earn an income as a fashion affiliate.

But first, you must ensure a convenient experience on your website, with strategies to inspire and encourage visitors to click an affiliate link and perform the desired action.

How Does an Affiliate Website Work?

An affiliate marketing website aims to build a loyal readership by creating valuable content before recommending related products and services to purchase or subscribe to.

Affiliate marketers do so by hyperlinking affiliate links, which are then tracked for measuring traffic source, conversion, and revenue.

Irrespective of the type of affiliate websites, it maintains a similar system to the following:

  1. An affiliate marketer builds a website for affiliate marketing purposes.
  2. The site owner partners with merchants, brands, or third-party affiliate marketing programs.
  3. The website owner promotes the products or services for their advertiser with a link directing to the actionable page.
  4. The website owner receives a commission when a website visitor clicks on the link and performs the desired action.

Simply put, it is an online referral program where you can voluntarily sign up to promote specific products and services you don’t own.

Some affiliate programs don’t cost a penny, which is ideal for beginners to dabble with affiliate marketing before trying out more lucrative options. You may still have to fulfill a sales or revenue target.

For example, you can apply to be an Amazon associate to promote an Amazon product on your website for free. Amazon’s associate program also pays their associates after the first successful reference.

However, an Amazon affiliate website must facilitate three sales within the first 180 days to remain eligible.

The pay structure depends on the particular affiliate marketing program. Some vendors pay a percentage of sales, while others pay a fixed fee. What percentage of the price you receive as a referral commission depends on the niche and product type.

How Do I Create an Affiliate Website?

Creating an affiliate website is similar to creating a blog, except the affiliate site should also have the tools and features required to track affiliate marketing conversion.

In addition, it should incorporate strategies for funneling a buyer’s journey, with the right triggers placed effectively.

Fundamentally, affiliate websites can fulfill two purposes:

  1. Running an affiliate program offering commissions for marketers.
  2. Promoting affiliate products or services with affiliate links in an affiliate website.

An affiliate website needs separate tools and functionalities to fulfill each purpose. The first type is created by brands or businesses, while the second type is created by affiliate marketers.

How To Create an Affiliate Website for Successful Programs?

Managing affiliates requires a brand or business to create a specific page or website with the tools to submit requests or applications. It also needs an affiliate dashboard, payment support system, possibly an automated affiliate link generator, etc.

Building and designing such a user-facing web interface requires advanced technical knowledge, which brands can do by hitting a professional web designing service.

However, promoting affiliate links doesn’t require such advanced technicalities. Hence, those websites can be built by any affiliate marketer with some basic know-how of using the right tools.

Check out the following YouTube video detailing the steps of creating a successful affiliate program for your business:

How To Create an Affiliate Website as an Affiliate: 6 Steps

While having a website is not mandatory for some affiliate marketing programs, a website opens up many lucrative avenues. It also helps negotiate a better deal for direct brand partnerships if you have a website with regular traffic.

1. Find Your Affiliate Marketing Niche

Before you get into the technicalities of building and designing a website, you should focus on finding your affiliate marketing niche. A niche is a specific topic or subject you’ll be focusing on in your website’s content.

You can write about anything and find affiliate marketing programs, but finding a niche has several benefits.

For example, you will get to create a design around the topic while posting regular content about it.

As a result, you will build a steady following looking for that type of information, gradually building authority over time.

While looking for a niche, you should consider topics you are passionate about. It will keep you interested naturally, making it easier to find content ideas and publish them accordingly.

After that, you should verify the viability of your preferred subjects for affiliate marketing. You can do so with the following:

  • How popular is your niche among online visitors? You can find web search trends using Google Trends and AdWord Keyword Planner. Examine the search volumes for different keywords related to your website’s content.
  • Are there profitable affiliate marketing programs in your niche? You must extensively research the kind of affiliate programs available in your niche. Some programs also require you to reside in a particular location or country.
  • How competitive is your niche for affiliate marketing? While popular subjects like technology or finance often have the most lucrative affiliate programs, it may also take a lot of time and effort to rank your website for those search queries. So, finding a balance between attractiveness and competitiveness might be the best.  

Some trendy niches for affiliate marketers include healthcare, wellness, technology, fashion, gaming, etc. Of course, you can always make your niche more specific to avoid massive competition for search rankings.

However, this would also mean narrowing down the list of affiliate networks your website can qualify for.

2. Decide Your Affiliate Website Type

As mentioned above, affiliate websites can be of various types. Which type of website would yours be? You must ponder this question and decide on a perfect outcome.

Some niches may require a specific type of website. For example, if e-commerce is your niche, you may as well create a product listing website like Canopy.

You don’t necessarily need to limit your options, though, as product reviews and comparison blogs also do well in the e-commerce niche.

Successful affiliate marketing websites find a sweet spot between the website owner’s and the potential audience’s interest, offering value for both.

If writing comes naturally to you, you can plan for a blog. Otherwise, you can start a comparison site with advanced technicalities or an exclusive deals site with aggressive marketing nouse.

Different affiliate websites cost different amounts of money to build, run, and manage. Therefore, you may have to calculate an estimated budget before deciding the website type.

For instance, blogs are easily affordable for anyone, but a comparison affiliate marketing site like Skyscanner requires deep pockets to develop and run.  

3. Design an Affiliate Marketing Website

Setting up an affiliate marketing website is similar to just about any website, depending on the type of website you want to build.

It includes:

  1. Buying and registering a domain name that describes your niche or brand. It should also be easily memorable for your visitors.
  2. Deciding on a website-building platform – preferably without coding requirements – to build your site. Affiliate marketers can take advantage of the free WordPress CMS to create almost any type of affiliate website.
  3. Subscribing to a website hosting provider most suited for your website type and platform. You can find many managed WordPress hosting providers, enabling one-click WordPress installation and various optimization tools.

Once you finish the basics, it’s time to bring your affiliate marketing website up to speed with an attractive design and layout.

WordPress users can start by choosing a free theme, while premium WordPress themes specific to your niche are also available. You should also install widgets and plugins essential for running and managing your site.

While designing your site, ensure it’s attractive, simple, and easy to navigate. You won’t be able to create a loyal base without offering a convenient experience.

A clean and convenient website is essential for signing up for Google’s affiliate programs. You may also need to create affiliate content related to disclosure and offer terms.

Once ready, simply launch your site and register it for search engine indexing. Note that you should focus on the essentials instead of trying to reach perfection before launching your site.

Learning continuously and customizing affiliate websites as per program requirements is integral to any successful strategy. Therefore, you can always return later and fix something that doesn’t work.

4. Look for the Right Products To Promote

As you set up your website, you can look for related affiliate programs in your niche. You can either partner with an affiliate marketing network or a merchant’s in-house program.

Partnering with multiple channels and networks is also possible if products and services are related to your content niche.

While choosing an affiliate program, consider the following:

  • How much affiliate commission does the network pay? Can you get a better commission rate?
  • What are the requirements for earning an affiliate income? How complicated are they?
  • Which products and services does the network offer? Is there adequate demand for the products to return enough affiliate revenue?
  • Are there any advertising fees or subscription charges? Is making an affiliate income viable after fulfilling the referral requirements?
  • Does your website have the tools and organic traffic count required for a successful affiliate application?
  • How does the network track traffic referred from your site and calculate pay? Do they have a convenient payment system?

Once you find a few suitable networks or vendors looking for affiliate promotion, you can look for the right products and services that are important for your visitors.

You should also consider the demand for these items before promoting them on your affiliate platform.

Different affiliate programs, especially affiliate marketing networks, may offer multiple products or services you can promote.

In addition, merchant networks like Amazon Associates also provide affiliate links for numerous Amazon products, requiring the marketer to find related products to promote.

5. Create Quality Content for Your Niche

You must populate your affiliate website with excellent quality content that offers something valuable for readers.

Even if it’s a product listing site, it should have search-engine-optimized content to inform customers about your listed products.

You can create quality content with the following steps:

  1. Researching relevant queries in your niche with a keyword planner or SEO tool.
  2. Creating a content plan with topics to address all essential queries obtained in the first step.
  3. Writing high-quality content for each topic that answers your potential visitor’s queries in the most authentic and helpful way possible.  
  4. Inserting related affiliate links in your content with descriptive anchor texts and publishing them according to your content schedule.

You will find various SEO tools with free and paid plans to find relevant keywords with adequate search volume and ideate content topics based on that.

However, first, you should focus more on solving your potential visitor’s problems in the most convenient way possible. Then, you can optimize the content for SEO to drive organic traffic and lead to your site.

Search engines reward consistent publishers. So, publish content 3-4 times a week. This will help you rank higher on the search results page, potentially saving hundreds in advertising fees.

Besides, the higher your website rank, the more authoritative you seem to potential visitors.

You should also take extra care while inserting affiliate links and place them in the right stage of your visitor’s journey. It will help increase your link click rates, potentially increasing your affiliate commission.

6. Promote the Affiliate Marketing Website

While strategic SEO can do wonders in increasing your website’s visibility, you can bring in more visitors with some active promotions and marketing efforts.

It includes:

  • Announcing your website launch on different platforms, including on social media channels.
  • Getting backlinks from authority sites and influencers in your niche, whether through digital marketing collaborations or creating resourceful content.
  • Running a digital marketing campaign with paid search engine ads, social media promotions, banner ads placements, email marketing, etc.
  • Writing and publishing guest posts in authoritative blogs, newspapers, and websites.

As you can see, some digital marketing strategies require an advertising budget. However, most social media promotions won’t cost you a penny, especially if you have a large following already. You can also get the word out about your website by posting on different forums.

As your website grows, you can analyze its reach, visibility, and performance with specific tools such as Google Analytics.

This will help you to measure your website’s performance and ideate future actions. Checkout the following YouTube video introducing Google Analytics to beginners:

It’s important to note that affiliate websites do take some time to get famous and receive consistent traffic, just like any other website.

So, be patient and keep publishing quality content to your website. Your effort should surely be rewarded over time, earning you a passive income.

What Are the Best Programs for an Affiliate?

The best affiliate program is the one that offers a lucrative affiliate commission for an array of affiliate products or services without a lot of restrictions or conditions for the marketer. It should also have some flexibility for beginners, especially regarding referral targets.

Considering all these factors, my picks for the best affiliate programs for a marketer are:

  1. Amazon Associate: Offering a 1-20% affiliate commission rate on different product categories, this is the most popular in-house affiliate program on the internet.
  2. CJ Affiliates: Also known as the Commission Junction, CJ Affiliates is a beginner-friendly network for marketers. It is trusted by highly-reputable brands like Google, BuzzFeed, CNN, Overstock, etc.
  3. eBay Partner Network: Another in-house affiliate program, eBay Partner Network, pays up to 4% of the item price for each qualifying sale directed from your affiliate website.
  4. Rakuten Affiliate Publisher Program: Primarily a cashback site, Rakuten marketing networks hold 7.8% of the affiliate marketing industry. You can quickly obtain a brand partnership to promote their products on the Rakuten website.

In addition, some brand-specific affiliate platforms allow marketers to promote products or services in return for lucrative commissions.

Frequented by digital services, some of these highest-paying affiliate programs are managed by renowned brands like Shopify, Hostinger, SEMRush, Elemento, etc.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Affiliate Sites Really Make Money?

Affiliate sites can make legitimate money, although building traffic sources and inspiring visitors to perform qualifying transactions takes some time. Initially, affiliate promotion may only bring some passive income.

Your affiliate revenue may vary based on referral numbers, lead quality, and transaction amounts, depending on the program.

Can I Join an Affiliate Program for Free?

You can join some of the most profitable merchant-based affiliate marketing programs for free, including the Amazon Associate programs and the eBay Partner Network.

Most affiliate marketing networks also offer free affiliate registration, although they may have some stringent requirements, like having a well-run website with minimum traffic.

Wrapping Up

Affiliate marketing is not a get-rich-quick scheme, but you can earn a lucrative passive income over time.

There are many ways to receive a cut of this multi-billion dollar industry, which becomes more manageable with a well-designed website publishing quality content.

You can start your affiliate marketing journey by creating an affiliate website. The steps are discussed broadly in this post, so you can profitably strategize and conduct affiliate promotion.

Please comment if you need further clarification. I would also appreciate it if you shared my guide among others looking to create affiliate websites in 2023.

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