Affiliate Marketing For Beginners – How To Make Money [The Basics]

Affiliate Marketing For Beginners

Disclaimer: This article may contain affiliate links. If you choose to purchase anything through the links below I may receive a small commission at no cost to you. However, these are all tools/services I have tested and the opinions in this article are all mine and not colored by any monetary incentives. You can read my full affiliate disclosure in my Affiliate Disclosure.

Affiliate Marketing For Beginners -  Jumpstart Your Journey with Zero Experience!

If you want to learn how to be an affiliate marketing superhero and earn a  g a z i l l i o n  of Dineros online, you have come to the right place. 

I’m kidding of course, but educating yourself and learning how to do affiliate marketing can be really rewarding. It is fun. You can eventually turn it into a full time income and there are endless opportunities waiting for you. 

The best part is that affiliate marketing is so easy to get started with.

Even for beginners. 

In my affiliate marketing for beginners guide I will show you how you can start a real and profitable business.

But first, let me tell you about my story.

Here’s a quick rundown on how I got started with affiliate marketing:


True story…

I was 27 and my wife was pregnant with our first child. I was working part-time in a liquor store and my wife was a student. Up until then we had both been fine with the lifestyle we had. It didn’t involve a lot of beef or exclusive dining but we had enough to pay the rent and eat pasta with cucumber and ketchup. On weekends we would maybe buy a couple of beers and add some ham and Parmesan cheese to that delicious pasta meal. 

Just one tiny problem…

Pasta is not the healthiest food for a baby. 

And the car we drove… a 1984 Volvo. It was barely scraping by.

Almost every day when I drove that car to work, I got pulled over by the boys in blue for now obvious reason. 

Apparently, my long hair and smashed-up car made me look like a crakhead or something.

And… the prices of child equipment. Oh, my! There was no chance we would be able to pay for all that stuff.

Something had to be done. A few years earlier I had been introduced to affiliate marketing and I had even made my first $39 from referring a customer to an adult store. Maybe I could try making money on the internet again? I started searching for information online, but this was 2005 and good information on the topic was hard to come by. Still I managed to collect enough info to at least understand what I had to do to get started. I was a complete beginner, but I knew affiliate marketing was the real deal. I knew it could be done.

Less than 30 days later I was back in the game: I earned my second affiliate check.

From that day on, I have been fixated on making money online, and being an affiliate is one of the easiest ways to earn an online income.

So, without further ado - let’s dive into the basics of affiliate marketing…


Describes the affiliate marketing circle

Affiliate marketing is the act of referring person A to a website and when person A makes an order from that website, you get paid a percentage of the purchase price.

This also briefly describes how affiliate marketing works but there is of course a lot more to it. 

First Steps to First Sale - Setting Up Your Affiliate Space - How Affiliate Marketing Works:

  1. Find a product you like, and that you think your audience will like. Does it have an affiliate program? If yes, great! This will now be the product you promote.
  1. If it is a physical product found on Amazon, you can sign up to the Amazon Associates referral program. You can also do a Google search for “product + affiliate program” and you will easily find out if there is an affiliate program or not for the product you wish to promote. 
  1. Sign up for the affiliate program. You can read more about our recommended affiliate programs for beginners below.
  1. Copy your unique referral link. This is the unique link the company will use to track sales coming through your link.
  1. Get the link in front of potential buyers. You can do that by running paid ads on Facebook, posting in Facebook groups, starting a blog or for instance creating content on Instagram or TikTok and promoting your link there. 
  2. Ca-Ching! Hopefully you make your first sale!

For someone not familiar with earning passive money online, affiliate marketing may seem like some magical pie in the sky dream. The reality is that it takes hard work and as a newbie the learning curve will be steep.

The question is: Is it worth it? We think the answer is yes.

Decoding the Lingo: Essential Affiliate Marketing Terms for Newbies

For any rookie diving into the vast world of affiliate marketing, the jargon can sometimes feel like a whole new language. But worry not! Here's your handy decoder ring to the most vital terms in the affiliate marketing universe:

  1. Affiliate Link: This is your unique URL provided by the affiliate program. It tracks your referrals, ensuring you get credit (and cash!) for the customers you send.

  2. Commission: The money you earn! This is typically a percentage of the sale price but can also be a fixed amount per transaction.

  3. Conversion Rate: The percentage of your audience who click on your affiliate link and make a purchase. Higher conversion means more moolah for you.

  4. Niche: Your specialized market segment. It's the specific topic or industry you'll focus on, like 'vegan recipes' or 'tech gadgets'.

  5. Merchant: The company or individual selling the product or service you're promoting.

  6. Affiliate Network: A middleman. They connect affiliates with merchants. Think of them as a marketplace of affiliate programs.

  7. Cookies: No, not the chocolate chip kind! In affiliate marketing, a cookie tracks user activity. It determines if a user clicked on your affiliate link and made a purchase within a set period.

  8. Landing Page: The webpage where your audience lands after clicking on your affiliate link. It should be compelling enough to lead them to make a purchase.

Remember, as you delve deeper into the world of affiliate marketing, you'll encounter even more terms. But consider this your essential starter pack. With this foundation, you're better equipped to navigate the nuances and intricacies of your new venture.

How to Succeed at Affiliate Marketing [even as beginner]

To succeed in affiliate marketing, you need to do a few things right. Hopefully these tips will help you in the right direction.

The product:

  1. Start with choosing the right affiliate product to promote. First, try figuring out if the affiliate program has a good reputation of actually paying their affiliates. There are some bad apples out there, and as a beginner your safest bet would be to sign up with one of the bigger affiliate networks such as Clickbank, Commission Junction (CJ) or Rakuten. 
  1. Promote what other affiliates are promoting. If no one else is promoting that product there is a good chance that is because the product has a really bad sales page that doesn’t convert, or that the product converts but has a high refund rate. Both mean less money for you.
  1. Choose quality over money. If you promote junk for a quick buck it will hurt your credibility and it will hurt you in the long run. It is therefore better to make a bit less on each sale and market products that are useful and of high quality.
  1. Go digital. You can promote digital products, services or physical products. When you start your affiliate marketing career, our recommendation is to promote digital products. They often have better conversion rates and higher commissions than physical products or services.
  1. Recurring income. Consider promoting subscription based products. Good examples of such products include online based software, digital memberships or (if you want to promote physical products) dieting pills and other monthly subscriptions. 
  1. Upsells and backend products. Search for companies that offer life-long tagging of the customers you refer. It is also best to find a company that has a good sales funnel in place, with upsells and higher ticket backend products if possible.  
  1. Networking. If you’re an introvert like myself, this is no easy feat. However, networking with other members of the community will shoot you forward at a much higher speed than trying to figure out everything on your own. 
  1. Get a mentor. We all have mentors or mastermind groups. If you are just starting out I personally offer advice and hand-holding at a reasonable price. But even the gurus have mentors. There are always people who have done the things you want to achieve and these are the people you want to find. Even Bill Gates has a mentor. Bill’s mentor is Warren Buffet(1). 

Understand Your Audience

It might be tempting to just grab your affiliate link and spread it in all kinds of Facebook forums. If just enough people see your link, someone will buy, right? Nothing could be further from the truth. It is much better to create targeted ads or websites for that specific ad or niche. 

The fastest way to get started is through paid ads, but YouTube, TikTok and Instagram can also help you create an audience in a relatively short time span. We prefer another method called search engine optimization (SEO) but this is a slower, but also a more long-term, approach. 

Regardless of which method you choose for your affiliate marketing endeavors, narrowing down to a specific segment of a bigger market, often referred to as a “niche”, is the best way to find customers that are more likely to buy what you put in front of them.

Be Trustworthy

Be honest and authentic. Don’t try to lure people into buying bad products. Don’t create fake reviews or lie to get a sale. It will backfire in the long run. Usually, you will be better off by finding quality products and promoting these instead. 

Be Exciting

Not everything, and everyone, can be funny but if you are truly excited about a product it will shine through and help you convince others about the benefits of the products you are marketing. This is especially true if you use video as a marketing tool, but it is just as important when writing. 

These are the key areas to think about if you want to succeed as an online marketer.

What Are The Benefits of Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing has both its benefits and its cons. It doesn't matter if you are a total seasoned marketer or a total affiliate marketing beginner - The pros and the drawbacks are mostly the same. The difference is how you approach them.

Let’s first look at some of the key benefits of being an online affiliate marketer:

  1. Automatic sales commissions, aka automatic income. You make money when you sleep, are at the gym or traveling. Whether you use SEO techniques like we recommend or you go down a different route, affiliate income can generate pretty much automated earning. Commissions can range from 5%-75%, and some referral programs even payout 100% on front end sales.
  1. Recurring income. Promote products with recurring commissions like for instance subscription based services. This is particularly important if you want a solid business foundation as it allows you to increase your income month over month without any additional work from you.
  1. No inventory. One of the absolutely best benefits of affiliate marketing is that there is no inventory to keep, nothing to ship and no customers to deal with. You just concentrate on driving visitors to the company’s sales page and wait for the commissions to arrive.
  1. Unlimited opportunities. Imagine you were a plumber and you wanted to expand your business. You would either have to find new customers, or explore new ancillary services to offer such as pipeline inspections for instance. However, these ancillary services tend to have a high start-up cost and require more people, more cars and specialized equipment. With affiliate marketing it’s different. If you learn how to build and rank affiliate websites there is no limit to how many you can build. And if you max out whatever strategy you are using, you can always branch out by marketing the same offers through paid advertising, YouTube etc.
  1. Become a super affiliate. These are the guys and gals that become so wealthy doing affiliate marketing that they can live solely on referring visitors to other people's services or products. They also often get invited to talk at huge marketing conventions in front of thousands of people. Often they eventually create their own line of digital products to create additional revenue streams. One main benefit of being a super affiliate is that you will be able to negotiate special deals with the affiliate managers and thus get better commissions. 

The Benefits of Affiliate Marketing

Best Affiliate Marketing Programs for Beginners and Bloggers

Not all referral programs or networks are open to beginners, but the most common ones are. In this article we discuss some of these affiliate networks with a specific focus on

Here are the top affiliate marketing programs for beginners and bloggers right now:


Clickbank is one of the longest running affiliate networks and the one I first got acquainted with back in 2005. They have a lot of digital products in all kinds of niches and they also have a few quality physical products you can promote. Their “backoffice” hasn't been updated for a very long time and looks really dated but it works.  The sign up process for beginners is easy and straightforward and this is definitely one network to start with.  

JVZOO rose to the top of affiliates' minds when they launched in 2011 as a direct competitor to Clickbank. JVZoo focuses a lot on products in the “make money online” niche but you can also occasionally find other types of products there as well. Most, if not all, products are digital and some of the products can be of quite poor quality as a lot of sellers come to JVZoo to make a quick buck off affiliate marketing newbies. That being said, JVZoo also has a lot of really great products with high commission percentages for you.

Some of the main benefits of JVZoo is that their support team is second to none, it is really easy to get started both as a seller and and as an affiliate, and you can rest assure that all their products and sales funnels are compliant with GDPR, FTC and all the other regulations impacting our industry. You must apply to market some of the products, while others are open for everyone to promote.

Rakuten, formerly known as LinkShare, is a massive marketplace of products in all niches, markets and categories you can imagine. No matter whether you are looking for a travel affiliate program or something related to beauty, fitness, credit cards or musical instruments you can find it here. They are really friendly towards beginners too.

Amazon Associates. Probably the most commonly used affiliate program for physical products as it lets you promote any product on the entire Amazon marketplace. However, they have cut back a lot on their commissions lately, they don’t have a very supportive affiliate support team, and they are known for cutting you out without any explanations at all. When you sign up they also demand that you make a sale within a certain time period to keep your affiliate account open. Use it at your own risk. It is a great place to get products to promote, but tread carefully.

Commission Junction (CJ). This one is similar to Rakuten in that it is a huge “marketplace” of affiliate programs to join. They are friendly and easy to work with, so give them a go.

Similar for all of these programs and networks is that after you have signed up, reach out to the affiliate manager or support staff and introduce yourself. Tell them a little bit about yourself, what niches you are in and how you intend to market. Create a relationship and you will be able to ask them for their recommendations on which product to choose or how to get better conversions. Once you have made a steady flow of sales, you can even negotiate a commission bump.   

What is the difference between an Affiliate Network and an Affiliate Program

The terms affiliate network and affiliate program can be confusing and they are often used to describe the same thing when in reality they mean two different things.

An affiliate network is a marketplace, or a company, gathering a lot of CPA (cost per action(1)) or affiliate products under one roof. Basically, they are a network or hub of affiliate programs. They provide the tracking links and they provide the payment solution for all affiliate programs under their management.

On the opposite, affiliate programs are typically companies running their own referral program for their own products. The benefit of this is that there is no middle man so you can expect higher commissions, but the drawback is that they can be a bit harder to work with and it can be difficult to trust if they will pay you or not. Also, they are probably mostly interested in working with people who can send them a lot of sales and not someone just starting out.

So, what is best for beginners - affiliate programs or affiliate networks? If you are just starting out, go with one of the networks. When you start making some sales you can sign up to more networks and if you see one specific product or category making a lot of sales you can see if that product has an affiliate program outside of the network. 


How to Start Affiliate Marketing on Your Blog

We cover the full scope on how to do niche research, how to set up your blog and how to monetize and market your blog in a separate set of articles as this topic is too big to cover here.

To sum it up, what you need to start affiliate marketing on your blog are a few key tools.

First, you do need a blog of course. We call it a blog, but it is basically just a website built on the WordPress platform. So let’s assume you already have your blog set up.

  1. Determine what your blog is all about. It is important to find affiliate products to promote that closely match the topic of your blog. Otherwise your visitors will be untargeted and your offer will not convert as well as it could. In short; if you are a beauty and fitness blogger, find a product related to that. If you follow our guidelines and create your blog with monetization in mind from the get-go, this is of course not an issue as you will already have a content creation plan.
  1. Use YoastSEO to optimize your blog posts for the search engines and increase rankings.
  1. Write good, niche specific, content that is relevant and interesting and at the same time optimized for the search engines. 

That’s it.

The Best Affiliate Programs For Beginners

How Much Can You Make as a New Affiliate Marketer?

As an affiliate marketer you can earn millions or you can earn zero. It all depends on you and your strategies.

Your income will greatly depend on what kind of niches you pursue, which offers you choose to promote, how many visitors you manage to get to your website, how well you implement conversion strategies and what kind of “drive” you got. 

I have seen a lot of questions in forums etc regarding “how do I land an affiliate job” or “what is the average affiliate salary.” When I read these questions I see one major red flag that makes it clear that these people will never make it as online entrepreneurs unless they change their mindset.

They talk like employees, not like business owners. Until they change their mind from thinking about jobs and salaries to running a business, making investments and turning a profit these people will forever be stuck.

If this is you, I recommend this training on entrepreneurial mindset and focus to get you unstuck.

Can You Start Affiliate Marketing With No Money?

Yes, you can but it will be very slow and not very productive. The reason is that if you have no money to start with you will need to use your own time and also rely on third-party services such as Blogger or Facebook to make money. Our recommendation is that you save up until you have at least $1500 to get started because that gives you a lot more room for trial and error and it will let you build a more solid foundation if the money is spent wisely.


How To Make Money With Affiliate Marketing Without a Website

There are several ways to make money online, many of which we discuss here.

New methods come and go all the time but some methods have proven to work well for quite some time now. The main method is YouTube, Instagram and recently TikTok. In addition you can make a quick buck through Facebook and Quora if you are a bit creative.

We have written a complete guide to making money with affiliate marketing without a website here.

Here is a quick breakdown of the different methods:

  • YouTube itself doesn’t need an introduction. The best method to make money on YouTube right now is to either create in-depth how-to videos and link to products with your affiliate link in the description. Another method that works really well is doing product reviews. However simple slideshow videos won’t cut it. You need to create a video preferably showing the unpacking of the product, your reaction and how to use the product. 
  • The same goes for Instagram, but here you do it through shorter videos and images. It works like a gangbuster for anything related to fitness, health, beauty and luxury items.
  • TikTok - The home of the younger generations. Team up with some celebrities or start creating content yourself. Works similar to instagram in terms of what kind of products to promote.
  • Facebook: You know all the spammers posting hundreds of facebook posts a day about this and that product? Do you ever purchase anything through these links? The fact is that most people don’t. Posting in random groups is a total waste of your time besides it will only annoy people. Instead, seek meaningful discussions, post useful insight and help people out. Then, when the setting is right and relevant you can link to your relevant YT video or let people know that you have a discount code for “X” product. When you have provided help and got to know people they will not have a problem buying through your affiliate link!
  • Quora… This one was very popular many moons ago but it still works. Here’s how you do it: Find questions related to your niche and answer them thoroughly.  Then link to a place where they can read more, which could be your affiliate link. The link should preferably be cloaked and it works best if you have a website or at least a Youtube video, facebook post or some other site that doesn't come across as spam. I used to do this method back in the day. Spending a couple of hours on Quora every night could easily net me $10-40 a day. 

Be creative and you will find many ways to promote your links for free. Just don’t spam. It’s annoying as hell.

Watch Out for Affiliate Marketing Scams

While a lot of work has been done to monitor the digital landscape, it is still a wild-wild west online and there are thousands of ways to get scammed. 

People who have been scammed once, or people not familiar with affiliate marketing, will sometimes call out all affiliate marketing products as scams. That is of course not true at all, but what is true is that there are some lesser quality products sold at too high prices. 

So first let’s have a look at what we believe can be described as scams:

  • You pay for something that you don’t receive.
  • You pay for something but receive a different product or inferior product than what could be expected for that price compared to other similar products.
  • You are being convinced into investing in Forex and crypto products, but your money gets stolen.

These were some typical examples of what we safely can call a scam.

Some of the most common online scams today involve:

  1. Binary, Forex and Crypto investment scams: Hyped up sales pages with a lot of claims about making money, but no real examples of what you will actually receive. 
  1. Dating scams: Any site where you must pay a certain price per message you send or receive is a scam.
  1. Solo Ads Scams: Solo ads are typically when someone with a huge email list lets you send marketing emails to their list for a fee per click on your link.  I used to sell solo ads for a living, but the market got so riddled with scammers that it became almost impossible to find honest sellers. Even the most popular sellers, including a couple of Israeli “solo ad gurus” are using lead injections and other questionable methods. 
  1. Pay to join affiliate programs: It should always be free to join an affiliate program. 

If you are uncertain whether something is a scam or not, have a look at online reviews from 3rd party websites such as Trustpilot for instance.

Affiliate Marketing For Beginners: Final Words

Affiliate marketing is super fun and it can be very lucrative. However it will take time to master just like any other profession.

The first thing to determine is what kind of affiliate business you want to run. Do you want to do search engine optimization and create content rich niche websites or do you want to learn about building email lists with Facebook ads?

Let the world be your oyster.

Learn as much as you can, take action and implement quickly.

Don’t be afraid of making errors as it is much better to fail fast than to work for an extended period of time and then find out that the project was doomed from the beginning.

Bonus tip: Choose an evergreen niche and you won’t be as prone to recessions and fads as you would if you choose to promote something that people don’t absolutely need in their life. 

For a full overview on the different methods you can use to make money online read this article.

Recommended affiliate marketing training:

Jeff Lerner’s Ente Institute - Affiliate Accelerator Course: I recommend this one because it is different and Jeff is very good at what he does. A little warning though: The $39 for “Entre Blueprint” doesn’t give you a lot of information on how to do affiliate marketing but you will get some mindset training that is totally incredible and never before seen anywhere. The Entre Blueprint has been the stepping stone for many successful marketers, myself included. You need to upgrade to the Affiliate Accelerator course.

When starting up a business and becoming an entrepreneur your mindset and health are two extremely important factors to your success and that is what the Blueprint is all about. 

The Affiliate Accelerator Course is an investment of $1997 as of writing this. It is not pennies but it is well worth the investment, something the 25300 members of the Entre Nation Facebook group are living examples of. The Entre community is very supportive and helpful. Highly recommended for any beginner starting an online business. The price may turn some people off, but compare that to doing five years in school taking a class on affiliate marketing at a university. I think you will see it is money well spent. You will learn a lot more, a lot faster and as we all know by now - taking action is the most important thing you can do.

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