Beginners wanting to get started in affiliate marketing often ask me about the first steps they should, and should not, take.
I have thought about all the things that come to mind, the first nervous steps, the mistakes and dead ends, the avalanche of advice and persuasive sales pitches from so-called gurus that tend to swamp internet marketing beginners, the wasted time and money on paid advertising, and so on.
Then I remember that first sale and the adrenalin rush that came with it. It confirmed that what I was doing really worked, and gave me the confidence and determination to pursue what has now become a satisfying and profitable business.
So let’s take a look at the absolute basic first steps, and what things to avoid, for affiliate marketing beginners.
– Choose a Good Niche
Choose a niche that is proven to be good for affiliate marketing. This is easier than it might sound. There is plenty of data available in places like Clickbank Marketplace, but I usually start off with Amazon and the Dummy book series.
These books are published after extensive research, and are only written once a popular niche has been identified. Look for the Dummy book, then look at the number of reviews of that book. A Dummy plus lots of reviews indicates plenty of interest in that niche.
Once you think that you have found the right niche, check that there is a good range of products available to promote in that niche. I look for at least 10 that are relevant, are selling well and will pay me a reasonable commission.
For the affiliate beginner I think the easiest place to do this is Clickbank again, because of its huge range of products, excellent sales and tracking data, and reliable payment system. Amazon itself is also a good source for affiliate marketing products, but its commission structure means you need to sell lots and lots to get a reasonable income.
– One Niche at a Time
Do one website at a time, until it is earning a basic income – say, $50 per week. Concentrate on that site only, do nothing else, do not get side-tracked by gurus offering magic formulas, etc. This might seem obvious but, when I started out, I quickly found I was trying to build three sites at once.
The reason was mathematics! I worked out that, if one site was going to earn $50 per week to begin with, then five sites would produce $250 per week. This seemed like a much better way to start making money online, and I thought that there would be economies of scale by doing five sites at once. After three I had to think again.
Try not to fall in to this trap. It is too much work, and it saps your concentration. It is much better to get one site running properly, with a good selection of keywords, backlinks and improving page rank, before starting on another.
– Install Tracking
Open Clickbank and Google Adsense accounts, so that you can install tracking code into your website. You need to know how each webpage is doing, and Google Analytics provides the best data. The account is free, and you get an HTML code to insert in your site’s source code. Google tells you exactly how to do it.
Assuming that you are using Clickbank for your affiliate products, you can set up tracking codes for each webpage and each product. You will then be able to see how many times that link was clicked through to the sales landing page, the order form and (hopefully) to a sale. After a while you will be able to analyse which webpages are working well and which need tweaking, and which products are converting well or perhaps should be replaced.
– Make a Management File
It is vital to keep control of your site(s) and to keep records. Make a management file to keep control of everything. Mine is in Excel and has sections for:
- page data (URL, keywords, LSI, search counts, all that sort of thing)
- articles (where and when published)
- tracking IDs
- tracking and link stats
- research for possible future promotional products, pages and articles
- keyword research (an ongoing task – you never stop doing this)
- sales and refunds (including analysis of conversion rates for each product I am promoting)
– Make a Plan
It is important to make an action plan. So many articles per week; so many forum posts; so many Facebook posts; etc, etc. Allow, say, one hour per day for emails; half a day per week for training; half a day per week for research.
Then stick to it! Review your plan from time to time in the light of experience, but don’t change it lightly.
Never stop learning in this business. Methods evolve, rules change, products go in and out of popularity. You also need to perfect your own techniques and be able to review your performance objectively.
This means constant training. Allow a set time in your plan, say, half a day per week. Look for more advanced affiliate training programs once you are making some money.
Every business needs some investment. An office, a computer, some software programs, staff, furniture, accountant, etc, etc. Affiliate marketing avoids almost all of these costs, but you will still need the mindset to invest when necessary.
Not at the start, perhaps, except for the computer and some software, which you probably have already. But later, you will need to think about buying some specialist software, some advanced training, perhaps some outsourcing of content writing.
Now, what you should NOT do!
- Do not do Pay Per Click (PPC) unless you have lots of spare cash. Until you get good at it, prepare to lose much more than you make. The gurus love PPC. I suggest that you leave it to them.
- Do not deviate from your plan, unless it is to modify it after careful thought and experience.
- Do not give up your day job! Most people devote two or three hours per day of their spare time at the start, and this will give you enough time to get your affiliate marketing business up and running. You will, of course, ignore those gurus who promise that you will ‘make $177,648.23 in the next 48 hours‘!
These are just a few simple steps if you want to know how to start an internet business. They work for me and, if applied properly, they will work for you too.
The author, Kieran Gracie, is an enthusiastic internet marketer who is keen to help any and all beginners get started in affiliate marketing. There is more detailed information and guidance about affiliate marketing for beginners in Kieran’s affiliate marketing blog. Also, MoneyMakingBuzz.com [http://moneymakingbuzz.com/good-seo-techniques/] has much that will appeal to both beginners and experienced online marketers, to help them make money online.