Everybody wants to be successful in affiliate marketing.
But not everyone knows how to get there.
In this post, I’m going to show you how to be successful in affiliate marketing in 10 simple steps.
In fact, these are the same tips I used to turn my own side hustle hobby into a six-figure business and share with other marketers who get an affiliate site audit from me to help boost their earnings.
So, if you want to know the “REAL SECRETS” for how to become a successful affiliate marketer, you’ll love this list of tips and strategies that ultimately lead greatness.
Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
- How to Be Successful in Affiliate Marketing
- 1. Make it a Business and Not a Hobby
- Did You Know That I Had a Book?
- 2. Focus On One Niche
- 3. Choose the Best Affiliate Networks
- 4. Choose the Most Profitable Products
- 5. Create the Best Buying Guides Ever
- 6. Capture More Traffic with Supporting Content
- 7. Be Consistent and Patient
- 8. Always Be Testing and Improving
- 9. Expand Your Reach with Content Repurposing
- 10. Build an Affiliate Marketing Team
- Final Thoughts on How to Be Successful in Affiliate Marketing
How to Be Successful in Affiliate Marketing
1. Make it a Business and Not a Hobby
If there’s only one tip you remember from this guide on how to be successful in affiliate marketing, I want you to make it this one.
You must make affiliate marketing a business and not a hobby.
I’ve seen so many people get into affiliate marketing with high hopes and dreams of making quick and easy money online.
These “dreamers” think that they’ll make a full-time income just by setting up a simple website and publishing a few articles.
However, what some of these beginners don’t realize is that affiliate marketing has to be approached like any other type of business. A hobby attitude just won’t cut it.
Sure, you can make a couple of dollars here and there with a side hustle like that, but the large earnings come when you make a mental shift to treating it like a real business.
If you really want to make a full-time career as an affiliate marketer, then you have to put in the time and energy it takes to make your site successful—at least in the beginning of your journey.
Once you have an established affiliate site that’s generating enough passive income for your liking, then you can slack off a bit.
After you’ve put in the hard work up front to make a successful affiliate site, you can reap the rewards of compound earnings.
With a good affiliate site, you can literally make money 24 hours a day, 7 days per week without having to even touch your computer.
Now that you’re aware of what it really takes to be successful in affiliate marketing, we can move on to the actionable steps for how to get there.
Did You Know That I Had a Book?
Before we get into the rest of this post, I wanted to make sure that you knew about my new book, Affiliate Content Secrets: Proven Affiliate Marketing Tips & Strategies You Can Use to Maximize Your Earnings.
It’s jam-packed with 27 “SECRETS” on how to create better content that improves your click-through rates and conversions on any affiliate site in any niche.
If you want to find out how to make more money as an affiliate marketer, then check it out!
2. Focus On One Niche
Or perhaps, you’ve even said to your self, “I can review a bunch of different products in various categories and hit the jackpot!”
If you’ve fallen into that trap of wishful thinking, you’re definitely not alone.
In fact, I had that same type of blind optimism early on in my affiliate marketing career and wasted a lot of time trying to pursue it.
I was so focused on the positive aspects of building a general affiliate marketing site that I was virtually “blind” to any of the potential pitfalls, such as the immense time it would take, the amount of money it would require to rank a site like that, and the authority it must have to actually become a success.
What I wish someone had told me back then was to STOP! DO NOT PURSUE THIS! FOCUS ON ONE NICHE INSTEAD!
If I had been taught that lesson, I would have reached a six-figure income as an affiliate marketer so much faster.
The sad truth is that too often affiliate marketers get excited about the possibilities that a site which covers a wide range of categories can deliver.
However, this shotgun approach is not nearly as effective as focusing your efforts on one particular niche.
If you want the fastest route to success (and money!), develop an affiliate marketing site that sticks to one niche.
You can certainly create other affiliate sites to promote other niches, but you don’t want to spread your site too thin on one site.
Trust me on this.
Doing something like that will lead to so many different problems, such as thin content sites, lower authority, and slower growth of income.
After spending more than a year on that general review site I was referring to, I finally sold it. And good riddance too! It was a nightmare trying to keep up with that site and make it profitable.
I honestly never should have started it at all.
So, What Does it Mean Exactly to Focus on One Niche?
There are two routes you can take:
- Micro Niche: Focus only on one particular type of product that meets a very specific need.
- Small Category Niche: Focus on closely related products that meet a slightly more general need.
I’ll explain both of these options in more depth so you know how each works.
A micro niche affiliate website is one that only focuses on one particular type of product that meets a very specific need.
If you’re just starting out in affiliate marketing and want to be successful, I highly encourage you to start with this method.
The micro niche approach is one of the fastest ways to build an affiliate site that can earn you decent money. It’s also the easiest way to establish strong relevance for a particular niche in the eyes of Google.
Since your micro niche site is only about one thing, Google has no problem understanding what types of keywords it should rank it for.
The only issue with micro niche sites is that you can only expand as large as your niche allows. And, this can create a cap on your income.
For example, a site that revolves around mattresses can only review so many products since there’s a limited variety of mattress options available. The same thing goes if you want to make an affiliate site around cell phone cases. There’s not much room to expand in that niche.
A few examples of micro niche sites include:
- Treadmill Reviews (only about treadmills)
- Dehumidifier Buyer’s Guide (only about dehumidifiers)
- Kitchen Knife Guru (only about kitchen knives)
Some ideas for micro niche sites include:
- Ceiling fan reviews only
- Running shoes for women reviews only
- Car rims reviews only
- Credit card offers and reviews only
- Kitchen sink reviews only
Small Category Niche
A small category niche site is one that focuses on closely related products that meet a slightly more general need.
This is still considered a niche affiliate site because you only review products centered around one topic.
But, your site can be much bigger and review many more things than a micro niche site. That means you can earn more income with a small category niche site than you can with a micro niche site.
However, a micro niche site can easily evolve into a small category niche site over time—and many of the most successful ones do!
My suggestion is that you start with a micro niche site, build it up until you’ve reviewed every product in that tight niche, then expand into another related category.
Approaching your affiliate business in that way will deliver more success because you won’t be confusing Google or your visitors on what your site is actually about.
For example, if you started a new affiliate site that reviewed smart home products, like Wi-Fi light controllers, smart thermostats, and automatic door locks, Google might get confused about what keywords it should rank you for.
If you created one buying guide for each of those three categories, then you would be diluting the relevance for each topic.
Without a clear signal, how would Google know if it should rank you for light controllers, thermostats, or door locks?
But, if you started your smart home products site and reviewed only Wi-Fi light controllers and created the multiple buyer guides around those items, then you’ll likely rank higher for Wi-Fi light controller keywords from the start.
Once that category is exhausted, , you could move on to reviewing smart thermostats and building up that category section of the site.
Over time, as you build out your new category section on smart thermostats, the relevancy for those keywords will increase and you can eventually dominate that topic as well with the same affiliate site.
Just keep in mind that you still want to keep your affiliate site targeted to one small category niche. In the previous example, you would keep your site focused on smart home products only and nothing else.
You wouldn’t review furniture, window treatments, bathroom accessories, etc. since those products don’t relate to a smart home setup.
In my 10+ years of experience as an affiliate marketer, relevance is a very important factor in keyword rankings. I’ve had sites that were focused on one small category niche and I tried to post a few buying guides that were outside of that niche because they were low competition keywords to target.
However, Google wouldn’t rank those pages for those target keywords no matter how hard I tried. In Google’s eyes, my site was all about “X” and those posts were about “Y”, which were not closely related. So, my site didn’t have the authority on those topics to rank high for those keywords.
A few examples of small category niche sites include:
- Pest Strategies (covers various products related to home pest control)
- Beardaholic (covers various products related to beard care)
- Runner Click (covers various products related to running)
Some ideas for small category niche sites include:
- Guitar gear reviews
- Outdoor power tool reviews
- Hunting equipment reviews
- Cooking tools reviews
- Bodybuilding equipment reviews
A Niche Site Will Set You Up as an Authority
The last thing I want to mention in this tip for how to be successful in affiliate marketing is that focusing on one niche will help to set you up as an authority in that space.
And being an authority on a topic is extremely important for both your keyword rankings and conversion rates on the products you promote.
When people are searching online for product reviews, they want advice from experts in the niche. They don’t want some random person giving them recommendations.
If a visitor feels any doubt in the site’s credibility on a subject, that person will likely just bounce from the page.
For example, which of the two affiliate marketing sites below do you think has more authority on drones?
- Joe’s Review Shack: This site reviews all sorts of things, like laptops, musical instruments, automobile parts, power tools, and drones.
- Drone City: This site only reviews drones and drone-related accessories. It also has numerous guides that teach you how to fly a drone and maintain it properly.
Clearly, Drone City would be the place you want to go if you need recommendations on buying a drone.
While Joe’s Review Shack might offer some good advice on which drone to pick, you’ll likely go to another site to confirm his recommendations since he’s clearly not an expert on drones. He seems to review anything and everything he can get his hands on.
Another thing to keep in mind here is that there are certain ways you want to write your content so that you’re seen as an authority in your niche. That includes using specific words and types of speech.
You also want to be persuasive with the words you use so that people actually buy the things you promote and not just browse your site.
You can learn exactly how to do those things in my new book, Affiliate Content Secrets. So check it out.
3. Choose the Best Affiliate Networks
Choosing the right affiliate network is a crucial part of being a successful affiliate marketer, whether you’re just starting out as a new affiliate or just building another site in a new niche.
There are literally thousands of different affiliate programs offered by various merchants to market their services or products. But only one or two programs will actually be the best affiliate networks that will make you successful.
What I mean by that is not every affiliate network is right for each niche.
For example, I have a friend with an affiliate site in the guitar niche who had set up all of his buying guides and product review pages to send people to Amazon.
The Amazon Associates Program is the default for most affiliate marketers since it’s easy to get accepted and most everyone on the planet buys stuff through Amazon.
However, after years of high click-through rates and low conversions (1-2%), he was very frustrated and started looking for other affiliate partnership options.
Eventually, he settled on Sweetwater’s affiliate program. Sweewater specializes in musical instruments and gear.
Once he made the switch, his affiliate sales tripled!
He went from a measly 1-2% conversion rate to 3-6% overnight.
Clearly, people who are interested in guitar gear feel more comfortable buying equipment from Sweetwater, a company that specializes in that stuff, than Amazon.
Another example is from a site that I own.
After Amazon slashed their affiliate commission rates in April 2020, I started looking for other programs to join to try and recapture my loss of earnings.
This site, in particular, was in the home improvement niche. Therefore, I signed up for the Lowes Affiliate Program and the Home Depot Affiliate Program since those are the two major stores that people shop at form those types of products.
I had high hopes for those new affiliate programs too.
So, I did some A/B testing on the pages with the highest traffic just to make sure that this switch in affiliate programs was going to work. I added links to each of those sites (Lowes and Home Depot) in addition to Amazon for every product I reviewed.
And to my surprise, two things happened:
- My overall Amazon conversion rates dropped.
- The conversion rates for Lowes and Home Depot were less than 1%.
What I realized after doing that experiment was that the people who visited my site were now aware that Lowes and Home Depot carried the products I reviewed. So, they must have preferred buying those items from those stores instead of Amazon. That’s why my Amazon conversion rates dropped.
Additionally, my visitors must have also preferred to shop for these home improvement items in the physical stores because the online conversion rates for Lowes and Home Depot were horrible.
After I realized this based on my testing and data analysis, I removed the Lowes and Home Depot affiliate links from my site and the Amazon conversion rates shot back up.
As you can see, the key to affiliate marketing success is to test out different affiliate networks and find the partnership that works best for your site.
You might think that one program will yield the best results and make you the most money, but after testing, you’ll discover that it may not be the case. Or, you will hit the jackpot and score higher earnings like my friend did with his affiliate guitar site.
Here are the top affiliate networks for you to consider:
- CJ Affiliate
- Guitar Center (since I mentioned guitars)
- Home Depot
You Can Also Go Direct to the Manufacturer
Another option you have for making more money in affiliate marketing is to go direct to the manufacturer and ask them if they have an affiliate program.
Not all manufacturers are set up to do this, but some are, and you can actually boost your affiliate earnings by 50-1,000% or more by reaching out to these companies.
For example, some manufacturers will pay you a 25% commission on each sale if you send your website visitors directly to their site. Compare that with Amazon which will only pay you a maximum of 3% in their highest category.
So, you could instantly boost your affiliate earnings by 700% just by signing up for that manufacturer’s private affiliate program and sending your visitors there instead of to Amazon.
No matter what niche you’re in, it can pay you great dividends to find out which manufacturers offer their own affiliate programs. And doing something as sending a quick email or making a phone call can lead you to much great success as an affiliate marketer.
4. Choose the Most Profitable Products
In over a decade of affiliate marketing, I’ve learned two important lessons about how to choose the right products to make more money in this business:
- You must recommend high-priced items
- You must persuade people to buy those higher priced items
Why Recommend High-Price Items?
The fact is that you won’t have much success in affiliate marketing if you don’t promote high-priced items.
For example, I’ve never met one affiliate marketer in my life who got rich doing book reviews. The reason being is that the commission you earn on books is too low. For every $20 book you sell on Amazon, for example you only make $1 in earnings.
Therefore, you need to sell one book for every $1 you want to earn. While it may be interesting and personally rewarding to you to do book reviews, the truth is that it’s painfully slow path to success.
So, if you want to make a lot more money in affiliate marketing then you have to recommend higher-priced items.
My personal threshold for the products I review on my affiliate sites is $100. If the product doesn’t cost $100 or more (with exceptions), then I don’t promote it.
For me, it just doesn’t make financial sense to review any item that costs less than $100. And you should consider this same operating principle for your affiliate business too.
How to Persuade People to Buy Those High Priced Items?
In my new book, Affiliate Content Secrets: Proven Affiliate Marketing Tips & Strategies You Can Use to Maximize Your Earnings I explain many methods on how you can persuade people to buy the items of your choosing on your affiliate page.
A few of those “SECRETS” include:
- Put your highest priced item at the top of your review guide. Make it your #1 top pick.
- Give that #1 top pick the longest list of benefits and features.
- Refer back to that #1 choice in the other product reviews. Compare the lack of features your #5 product has, for example, that the #1 item includes.
- Repeat the name of that top #1 pick throughout the page, especially in the introduction and summary.
- Place images of that top #1 pick strategically throughout the page so people see it more often.
If you read my new book, you’ll understand the psychology behind why those tips work to help you sell more of your most profitable item.
5. Create the Best Buying Guides Ever
Affiliate marketing is a fast-growing business and hundreds of new people are getting into it each day.
Along with that, thousands of new affiliate buying guides and product review pages are also being published daily.
However, what really separates the “winners” from the “losers” is the amount of effort a person puts into making their product buying guides.
If you do a search for any “best x” keywords, you’ll see hundreds of pages ranking for those terms.
But, what you’ll see on page one in Google is often the best, and most thorough, affiliate buying guides that are out there.
On page two and below in Google are pages that were obviously put together quickly and have thin content.
So, if you really want to be better at affiliate marketing, then you must make the best affiliate buying guides ever. Today, there is no substitute for high-quality, extremely helpful, and accurate product reviews.
How Do You Make the Best Buying Guides Ever?
This process is much simple than you may think.
Here’s my go-to method for creating amazing buying guides that outrank my competitors for hundreds of keywords:
- Step 1: Go to Google and search for your target keyword. For example, “best adjustable dumbbells”.
- Step 2: Open each of the top five ranking pages in a new browser tab.
- Step 3: Examine every top-ranking page and write down the following for each one:
- Meta Title
- Meta Description
- H1 Page Title
- H2 Titles
- H3 Titles
- Step 4: Compare the page structure and keyword usage in those various HTML elements for each of the five pages. Look for patterns. Where is the complete target keyword used versus the keyword without the word “best” in it?
- Step 5: Take note of what the common topics are covered in each H2 an H3 tag. Look for patterns. What similar topics are all five of the top-ranking pages covering?
- Step 6: Draft an outline for your new affiliate buying guide. Be sure to include your target keyword with and without the word “best” in the various HTML elements like your competitors did. Also, cover all of the similar topics and include the additional ones that each individual page has that the other pages did not. For example, if every top-ranking page included a section on “How to Maintain an Adjustable Dumbbell Set”, then you’ll have that section too. But, if only one page included a section on “How to Clean Your Adjustable Dumbbells”, then you’ll want to add that section to your page too.
In the end, if you follow that process for writing your affiliate buying guides, they’ll become the most in-depth pages on the topic.
Essentially, you’re taking all of the best content from the top five ranking pages and combining it onto one authority page that is yours. And this will help your affiliate buying guide rank faster and higher with less effort needed on off-page SEO.
Note: I followed this same process to write this guide on how to be successful in affiliate marketing. So, it applies to informational content too.
Now, if you want to know what the most successful affiliate buying guide page structures and templates are for higher click-through rates and conversions, then check out my new book, Affiliate Content Secrets: Proven Affiliate Marketing Tips & Strategies You Can Use to Maximize Your Earnings.
In Section #2 of the book, I reveal my secret affiliate page structures that took me many years of trial and error to develop. These structures are my go-to templates for making the most money with affiliate buying guides since they convert the highest sales.
6. Capture More Traffic with Supporting Content
No matter what keyword you target with an affiliate page, there’s going to be a limit on how many searches are made for that term.
For example, Google Keyword Planner shows 100-1k searches per month for the keyword “best electric riding mower”.
Therefore, if you create an affiliate guide on the best electric riding mowers, then you can’t expect to get any more than 1,000 visits per month to that page from that specific keyword.
Sure, that same page will rank for additional long-tail keywords, but for the argument sake of this affiliate marketing success tip, let’s just say 1,000 visits is the maximum number that the best electric riding mower page will get if it was ranking in the #1 spot on Google.
With that in mind, you can see how this affiliate buying guide has a limit on its organic traffic. Even in the best month, it won’t surpass 1,000 visits.
However, there is one easy way to capture more traffic for your buying guides with supporting content.
In fact, I’ve boosted my traffic for some affiliate pages on my sites by 30% or more by following the process I’m about to teach you.
Here’s how this method works:
- Step 1: Go to Answer the Public.
- Step 2: Do a search for your target keyword without the word “best” in it. For example, “electric riding mower”.
- Step 3: On the results page, look under the “Questions” and “Comparisons” tabs for topic ideas to write about.
- Step 4: Write a supporting article on one of those topic ideas.
- Step 5: In the supporting article, make a reference to the buying guide so that people who land on this page will be made aware of it.
For example, one of the topics I found on Answer the Public when writing this affiliate marketing success guide was, “What is an Electric Riding Mower?”
If I were to write this supporting content page, I would insert a link to the best electric riding mower guide at the end of the introduction paragraph.
It could look something like this:
Below, you’ll learn everything there is about electric riding mowers, including how they work and the major benefits these machines can offer you. If after reading this article you like the idea of having this type of mower, then check out my best electric riding mower page. It shows you what the top models are for every size yard and budget.
Now, anytime a person lands on that supporting content page, they’ll immediately find out that there’s another page on the site that shows them a list of the best electric riding mowers.
And some people will click on that link.
And some people will buy an electric riding mower.
As you can see, that one piece of supporting content not only boosts the traffic for that affiliate buying guide but also increase the earnings.
To really amplify this method for success, you should write as many supporting articles as you can for every affiliate buying guide on your site.
Just think about this…
If you could capture 100 visits per month to each supporting article, and you had 10 supporting articles for one affiliate buying guide, that would be 1,000 additional visitors who could potentially go to that page and buy something.
Then, instead of having a threshold of 1,000 searches (and visits) per month to a buying guide on the best electric riding mowers, you can easily double or triple that number by sending additional direct traffic to the page through your supporting content.
7. Be Consistent and Patient
Remember how I said in tip #1 that you should approach affiliate marketing as a business and not a hobby?
If you truly want success, then you have to treat it as such.
If you come into this business with the mindset that you’re going to be making millions of dollars overnight, then you’ll be sadly disappointed.
Building up a successful affiliate marketing site takes time, consistency, and patience. However, the end results are very rewarding for your hard work.
With a good affiliate site, you can literally make money 24 hours a day, 7 days per week without having to even touch your computer after you have enough content in place.
Many people give up on affiliate marketing too soon and don’t succeed with it because the process can take several months of work before you start making good money.
When I first started, I made $2.18 in the first month.
Most people would have quit after seeing that low of a commission.
But, I stuck with it and now I earn a six-figure income as an affiliate marketer and barely have to do any work at all now to maintain my lifestyle.
So, my biggest tip for you here is to be consistent and patient.
Put the time and effort it takes into writing the best affiliate buying guides ever and supporting them with helpful informational content.
Over time, that hard work will pay you dividends in earnings if you also choose the right affiliate networks and products to promote as I mentioned in tips #3 and #4.
The fact is that affiliate marketing is the best method for making passive income online, has the lowest possible risk, and is a business that you can start for the lowest investment.
8. Always Be Testing and Improving
If you want to be successful in affiliate marketing for the long-term, then you have to test your content ideas and improve upon them.
Affiliate marketing, like any learning process, is an ongoing effort.
A common mistake that people which prevents them from succeeding with affiliate marketing is that they don’t track their progress and analyze their results.
After you’ve put in the effort to create amazing buying guides and helpful supporting content, you need to track your progress and see what worked.
Essentially, you always need to be testing and improving and double down on what methods are proving to be successful.
You also need to find out what didn’t work, analyze the reasons behind it, fix it, and avoid doing the same mistakes in the future.
In tip #3, I shared with you how I did an tested out new affiliate partners and how that experiment failed. I never would have known if Amazon’s Associate Program was the most profitable partnership for that particular affiliate website if I hadn’t had done that experiment.
The same thing is true with my friend who has the guitar gear review site. He was leaving piles of money on the table by using Amazon and not Sweetwater. But once he discovered that, he made the switch to Sweetwater on all of his affiliate links and instantly made his site more successful.
A couple of things you can do include:
- Use free tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console to track your website traffic and keyword rankings.
- Use your affiliate network’s dashboard to track which products are selling the most on your affiliate buying guides and do more to promote those items on the page. Swap out any products that are not making you sales.
- Perform A/B split testing on your affiliate pages to find out what on-page changes are working to increase your earnings and which are not. Double down on what is working well.
9. Expand Your Reach with Content Repurposing
One of my most best kept secrets for affiliate marketing success is content repurposing.
It’s a tactic I learned from Gary Vaynerchuk that you can read all about here: The Gary Vee Content Model.
Basically what Gary teaches you is how to take one piece of pillar content and repurpose it into 60+ pieces of micro content that you can share on social media to expand your reach.
The ultimate goal of micro content is to drive awareness back to the original long-form content.
Some examples of micro content that can be created and shared that lead back to an affiliate buying guide include:
- A tweet on Twitter with an image of the top product review along with one stand out feature for why someone might want it.
- A YouTube video summarizing the key points in the buying guide and encouraging people to go check it out.
- A Facebook post that includes helpful buying tips taken from the article and linking back to it to see the product reviews.
- An audio version of the buying guide uploaded as a podcast to Apple iTunes.
- An Instagram photo of you working behind the scenes testing and reviewing the products that ended up on the buying guide.
The opportunities are limitless for content repurposing. You can literally share a link to the same affiliate buying guide more than 100+ times by creating 100 different pieces of micro content to post on social media.
By adding this content repurposing model into your workflow, you can spread your reach much farther than just relying on organic search traffic from Google.
10. Build an Affiliate Marketing Team
My final tip for you on how to succeed in affiliate marketing is to build a team.
One-man operations can be hard.
And some of the most successful affiliate marketers are the ones who converted from a one-man operation to a small team.
With a team, you can increase output and spread out the responsibilities to achieve greater results.
For example, a small team of three people can be divided into duties like this:
- Person #1: Keyword researcher and SEO expert
- Person #2: Content writer and product tester
- Person #3: Social media manager and backlink outreach
As you can see in this three-person team, all of the tasks required to create, rank, and promote affiliate content are covered. By having separate people working on each essential aspect of the business, you can produce better and more content and generate more awareness for it.
Final Thoughts on How to Be Successful in Affiliate Marketing
how to be successful in affiliate marketing
Now that you know how to be successful in affiliate marketing, it’s time for you to start putting these tips into action
There’s a lot of money to be made in affiliate marketing and you can succeed if you follow these crucial steps.
If you have any questions about this article, or if you have any other tips you want to share that would help others become successful in affiliate marketing, feel free to leave a comment below.