When you’re starting out in a new venture, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. This is as true of affiliate marketing as it is for anything else. Not only are there hundreds (or even thousands) of products and services to sell as an affiliate, there are also many different channels to use to promote your affiliate offer.
One channel has held up over time. It’s been around longer than social media, offers more control over your promotions than pay-per-click ads, and gives you the best opportunities to be creative with your offers: blogging!
Blogs have become such a popular way to promote products through affiliate marketing that many of the world’s largest publishers have jumped on board. Some major online publications even focus their business models (and writing efforts) almost entirely around earning affiliate sales.
But if you’ve never created your own blog, whether for affiliate marketing or any other purpose, this process might seem overwhelming — especially if you’re not particularly technical.
Starting a blog is more involved than setting up a Facebook ad or sending an email, to be sure. Building one, with relevant content and regular updates can be time-consuming. But the long-term payoff can be well worth it. Many successful affiliate marketing bloggers report monthly incomes of $10,000 or more.
For most affiliate marketers, the first step towards building a successful blog involves making a few important choices...
1. Choose your niche
No blog is all things to all people. Research is a critical element in the process, and it’ll boost your chances of success in the long run.
Most blog-focused affiliate marketers pursue niches or industries they already know well because it’s a lot easier to write about what you know than it is to start off with zero knowledge and experience.
If you’re looking for an affiliate program that fits your experience and interests, check out MaxWeb’s Campaigns database.
Not only do we have a range of products and services for you to market as an affiliate, each listed campaign includes historical conversion rates and average payouts, making it easier than ever to “niche down” to a blog-friendly offer.
2. Research your audience and competitors
Unless you plan to run paid ads to your blog, you’ll most likely drive traffic (and affiliate sales) by ranking your site on Google searches related to your niche and offer(s). Over the long run, you want your blog to show up in the top three results for Google searches related to your niche and offers.
This is where search engine optimization (SEO) skills come in handy. You don’t need to know much about SEO right away, but you should be able to identify relevant keywords and the competition you’ll face when you try to rank for those keywords.
Ahrefs is the best keyword-analysis tool on the market, and it recently launched Ahrefs Webmaster Tools, a free but limited version of the powerful service already used by SEO professionals worldwide. There’s no affiliate program for Ahrefs subscriptions (I wish!), but it’s still a must-have tool for aspiring affiliate marketing bloggers.
Make a list of keywords or search terms you might Google when looking for your niche or product, and start digging into the data Ahrefs provides on these keywords. You should be able to see how many searches that keyword gets every month and how competitive it is, which in SEO terms means, “how many sites will have to link to my blog before it outranks my competition?”
If you find your niche and/or keywords are too competitive for the traffic they’ll bring in, you can pivot to a new idea without spending any time or money putting together a blog. An ounce of SEO can save you a ton of trouble.
3. Choose your hosting and domain name
Some affiliate marketing blog guides might tell you about many platforms, but for 99% of you, WordPress will be your best bet. It has the largest user base and developer community of any blogging platform, which means you’ll be able to add any functionality you need to your site through free or paid plugins.
If you install WordPress on your own web hosting account, you’ll have full control over the look, feel, and content of your site, which is always ideal when you’re trying to stand out in a crowded marketplace.
The real choice will involve which hosting service and hosting package on which to install WordPress. Some services only cost a few bucks every month, but the trade-off will be slower service and (most likely) a slower site. Make sure you check reviews on your top choices to make a more informed decision.
Also, don’t forget to pick up a good domain name. You want a domain name related to your niche and offers, but you don’t want to stretch too far to find something unclaimed. A memorable short domain name will be better than a long and convoluted one. Try to avoid numbers in your domain name if you can — they tend to look “spammier” to a lot of people.
4. Choose a design for your website
No one wants to read an ugly blog. Luckily for you, the WordPress community has put enormous effort into designing high-quality professional “themes” ― structural and visual frameworks for sites. You can find one perfectly tailored to your niche and launch with minimal changes, or get a popular theme and tweak it to your heart’s content. Many themes come bundled with other WordPress plugins, so you may already have the theme of your dreams after installing the necessary tools.
Make sure to build your site for the reader. This means clean designs and fast loading. You want people to enjoy reading your blog. Otherwise, they may not stick around to click your affiliate links.
5. Start writing!
If you want to get noticed and get clicks (and sales), you need to provide value. Your blog posts should answer questions relating to your niche and offers in an authoritative, non-salesy way.
Your SEO research will be very helpful here. A good SEO research process will identify questions people are already asking, and how your competitors have answered those questions in the past. If you want to rise in the search ranks, you’ll need to provide better answers, or address questions no one’s properly covered before.
If you help people, they’ll be more likely to trust you and buy from you. Don’t forget to include your affiliate links where relevant — typically towards the end of posts, like this...
If you’re looking for an affiliate network that helps you make more predictable revenue more often, you might want to consider MaxWeb. We’re currently the #1 fastest-growing affiliate network, and we specialize in maximizing results for both affiliates and advertisers. No exaggeration. We focus on carrying only the best offers and provide maximum commissions—you’ll get payouts up to 3 times a week. Click here to learn more and see if MaxWeb might be a good fit for you.