How to Get Started With Affiliate Marketing – A Beginner’s Guide

Being a beginner in affiliate marketing can be an overwhelming place to be.  It’s been awhile for me, but I have a clear memory of feeling like I had no idea how to get started.

Even for those that have marketing experience, the big picture of affiliate marketing often leaves them feeling confused and lost.

As with my posts, if you prefer to learn with video, watch down below.

My story getting started in affiliate marketing is exactly this.

It was hard. It was disappointing. It was downright depressing a lot of the time.

I worked at least 20 hours every single week after I got off my regular job, spending hours putting links on forums and blogs.

When the year finally ended, I hadn’t even made a thousand dollars. I believe the math added up to me making about $.50 an hour as an affiliate.


Now that might be a livable wage somewhere in the world, but where I live I’d need to work 20 hours a day just to pay for food. And I have a particular fondness for shelter on top of that!

The worst part was that I didn’t feel like I was doing the world any favors. I was pushing affiliate products I didn’t really believe in and I wasn’t really providing value in the way I was doing so.

You know those really annoying direct messages you get in your Instagram inbox sometimes begging you to buy a random product you’ve never heard of?

Something like this.

Instagram affiliate marketing spam

Yep. That was me.

Suffice to say I learned, I changed, and most importantly I kept at it.

Within three years I had won two cars and was making ten times as much as an affiliate compared to my old job. Honestly I’ve had successes that I didn’t even dream of having when I first started affiliate marketing. You can learn more about that story in my webinar.

I hate to be the dude that posts pictures of his car, but how often do you win a car? I mean seriously.

At least it’s not a Lamborghini right?

So I want to break it down for other beginners. The process of how a true beginner, with zero knowledge of affiliate marketing can start a successful affiliate business.

If I can shave off a year from anyone’s learning curve, it’s worth it.

So without further ado – let’s learn how to get started in affiliate marketing.

Want to know which affiliate marketing method works best for you? Answer the short quiz below:

Step 1 – Comprehend the Big Picture

I still get plenty of dirty looks when I tell people I’m an affiliate marketer. This is because most people think of folks like the dude in the picture below when they think of affiliate marketers.

Bad example affiliate marketing

That’s one of the dozens of spammy comments I got on my YouTube channel today.

It’s an affiliate link to some crappy program I’ve never heard of and would never buy if I had heard of it.

This is also what a vast majority of beginner’s think that affiliate marketing is. They pay for terrible courses that teach them how to fill the internet with their affiliate link, spamming every forum from Texas to Zimbabwe, all while doing little work and providing little value to the world.

They make very little money and they struggle to get out of bed in the morning because, well, who wants to go do that all day?

Let me teach you a better model.

Affiliate marketing is all about creating win-win-win situations on the internet between three different parties.

Those parties are companies with products, affiliate marketers that have audiences, and people that need those companies products, but don’t know about them.

Companies spend vast amounts of their budget trying to market their products. So they love if an affiliate can come to them and say, “Hey, I’ll send a bunch of people to your product and you only have to pay me a percentage of what you make from those that sign up”. It’s a no brainer!

There is literally ZERO risk to the company. They only pay if they make money!

affiliate marketing basics

So the company wins.

On the affiliate front, the affiliate knows that they are good at marketing.

They could go get a job at a company and do marketing for them (ugh), but then they have to work 40 years with minimal raises and if they have incredible success, the company reaps the reward.

So with affiliate marketing, the affiliate is able to take their marketing skills and actually get paid what they are worth.  If they make the company a lot of money, they get paid a lot of money.

So the affiliate wins.

And lastly the user. These are people that can benefit from the company’s product, whether they know about it or not. The affiliate is able to introduce them to the product they didn’t know about and help them solve a problem they have in their life.

So the customer wins.

Having this mindset will change a beginning affiliate marketer from a “spam the internet to make a few bucks” kind of affiliate to a to a “make the world a better place and make a lot of money in the process” kind of affiliate.

So now that we’ve established this mindset, let’s look at the next (much more actionable) step.

Step 2 – Choosing a Niche

Virtually every time a beginner in affiliate marketing comes and asks me how to get started they struggle with answering this question. The conversation looks like this.

Me: So what niche do you want to focus on?

Them: What’s a niche?

Me: It’s a group of people with similar interests. It’s much easier if you narrow down who your dream customer is so you can focus your messaging on them.

Them: Oh the whole world is my dream customer. I want to sell to everyone.

Me: Wrong answer.

Choosing a niche is absolutely essential for those that are new to affiliate marketing. You are not going to sell to the whole world.

Here’s why.

Imagine there were two people. One was a girl and one was a boy. One was black and one was white. One was filthy rich and one was dirt poor. One loved athletics and one loved theater and plays.

Do you think you might sell them differently? I sure hope you are saying yes right now. If you say no, perhaps affiliate marketing isn’t for you.

How to choose a niche for affiliate marketing

To choose a niche in affiliate marketing you need to choose a general niche, and then niche down another level. A general niche is typically something in the health space, the wealth building space, or the relationship space.

Once you have chosen one of these three, then you need to get more specific. For example, one of my YouTube channels focuses on the stock market, and even more specifically it is for beginners. It is in the general niche of wealth, and the sub niche of stock market beginners.

This works across every spectrum. I have seen people choose health, and then niche down to pregnant moms and make 7 figures a year.  I’ve seen others choose niches like how to make money online for stay at home dads or moms.

Figure out what you have a passion and a knowledge for and then use that to pick your niche. A sub niche for affiliate marketing can be anything from race, location, hobbies, or even political preference.

Step 3 – Find Affiliate Marketing Programs In Your Niche

Time to figure out who is going to be paying the bills! I always find it funny when people say they can’t find any affiliate products to promote, because the internet is jammed packed with affiliate programs.

I’d bet at least half the companies in the world have some form of one. What is more important is YOU picking the right affiliate program out of the many options you have to choose from.

I’ve compiled lists in many major niches here:
1. Credit cards
2. Gaming
3. Pay per click
4. Crypto
5. High Ticket Affiliate Programs

Sidenote, my current favorite affiliate program is called Legendary Marketer. You can read about it here.

I actually just went through this process with a new brand I am creating so here is exactly how I find affiliate programs to promote.

I started with a simple Google search.

Best affiliate programs for beginners

Complicated – I know.

Facebook groups

Next I joined a bunch of Facebook groups. I looked for Facebook groups about affiliate marketing, and Facebook groups about the subject my niche is interested in.

I simply posted in the affiliate marketing Facebook group about what good affiliate programs existed in that niche. Then I posted in the Facebook groups about the subject asking for good programs, courses, etc. that people had taken that had helped them.

Finally I just looked at those recommended programs and found any affiliate programs that were associated.

affiliate marketing facebook groups


This research gave me a great list to go from. I also looked at sites like JvZoo, Warrior Plus, and ClickBank to see if they had anything high quality. These sites are essentially brokers that connect affiliate programs to affiliates.

They have hundreds of programs already running through their platforms that anyone can sign up to promote.

Here is what I look for when choosing an affiliate program

When you are looking for the right affiliate programs you want to look for one of two things.

High-ticket affiliate programs, or recurring programs.

A high-ticket affiliate program is something that sells for at least a couple hundred dollars, and nets you over $100 when a sale is made. I prefer to promote high-ticket programs that are $997.

A recurring affiliate program is typically a software that charges its users monthly fees. The software company in turns pays the affiliate a portion of those fees every month.

This means the affiliate starts to make passive income every month from past users. They can build up hundreds of software users and get paid every month even if they stop promoting.

The only time I break the rules above are when I am using a source of traffic that is passive. For instance YouTube, Google, or Pinterest.

All of these platforms can send traffic to your affiliate links  years after you do the initial work. So I’m willing to push smaller offers on these platforms because it is an awesome source of passive income.

Pay close attention to what I just said above. This is the true key to successful affiliate marketing.

My favorite program is called ClickFunnels. It is a software company that charges users $100 per month. The referring affiliate makes 40% of that each month.

I have generated a 7-figure income in the last 18 months from ClickFunnels alone. I can stop promoting ClickFunnels and continue to make a 6-figure income from the recurring payouts for years.

They also have one of the best information products I’ve ever promoted called the One Funnel Away Challenge.

This is an info product but in the form of a challenge. You can click the link to go read about it, but it does cost money.

Creating your affiliate links

Many affiliates do this wrong in the beginning and it kills them.

You want to always be able to track where your affiliate link clicks and signups are coming from. Unfortunately because you are an affiliate, not the actual company, you don’t get access to this data.

This means you need to route your affiliate link through a link-tracking software. This is basically a software that allows you to make an affiliate link that looks like this:

Then when someone clicks that link (go ahead and try it if you want). It will forward them onto ClickFunnels. First it will get some data though and make it possible for me to know if they came from YouTube, Facebook, etc. and which particular post or video they came from.

The software I use for this is called ClickMagick.

ClickMagick allows you to create pretty links and also allows you to track exactly where the people clicking those links are coming from.

The worst mistake I’ve ever made as an affiliate is not taking proper care to track my links.

Once I started to see success, I had no idea where it was coming from.

Step 4 – Best Traffic Sources for Affiliate Marketing

Hopefully you have at least an idea of what traffic is, but if not, it is essentially where you are getting your customers from. Are you getting them from Facebook? Google? Advertising? Referrals?

You get the idea.

I recently made a video where I broke down how traffic works online. This is true for brand new affiliate marketers, ecom stores, and every other business that uses the internet.  Click the image to watch the video or keep reading if that’s how you roll.


Here is how traffic works for affiliate marketers. It can be broken down into two categories – search and social.

Search Engine Marketing

Search engine marketing is focused on search engines. Google is the most common search engine as most people are aware, but YouTube is also a huge search engine, as is Bing and Pinterest. Other smaller search engines include Yahoo and Tumblr.

People tend to use a search engine when they have a problem they want solved. For example, I spent about two hours today searching Google for which Nikon camera was best for my particular situation.

I get terribly nervous buying expensive things so I read every review and blog post I could get my hands on.

If you see the video below, they made a great video helping me make a good decision, and they attached an affiliate link to the video. 

affiliate link example

I  happily purchased because they had put in the time and had done the work for me. Obviously as a new affiliate marketer, this is a good thing.

All I need to do is get these people that are searching the web with problems that my affiliate product can solve, and then put the solution in front of them. It’s one of the world’s easiest sells!

I love search marketing for new affiliates and online entrepreneurs because they don’t have to have a crazy good understanding of how to get people to buy something, which I’ve always found to be a lot harder.

Social Media Marketing

Social marketing is focused on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. These affiliate marketers have to use something called interruption marketing. They need to take someone who has shut off their brain and is aimlessly scrolling through Facebook, and find a way to get them excited enough about something to actually act.

affiliate beginner's guide

It tends to be a lot cheaper and easier to get leads (get someone to give you an email address or phone number) but much harder to get sales.

Choosing Your Traffic

Just think about it. When you are scrolling down Instagram, are you doing so in the hopes of spending money? Or improving your life at all? Absolutely not. You are just trying to shut off your brain for awhile.

Contrast that with someone using Google or YouTube. They have a problem and typically want it solved as soon as possible. If that means spending money, so be it.

You can see a great example of this on another YouTube video I made last year where I discuss making more than $35,000 on a single YouTube video with affiliate marketing.

All I did was realize that a lot of people were searching for ways to buy Bitcoin. I went and signed up for an affiliate program for a company that helps you buy Bitcoin, and then taught people how to do so using that company.

My biggest success with affiliate marketing

Sorry if you tried clicking the link – it’s just a screenshot.

That single 10-minute video has brought in more money than any single piece of content I’ve ever created.

And it took ten minutes of teaching and zero selling! Now you can see why new entrepreneurs love the idea of affiliate marketing. Even a new affiliate marketer can make money if they focus on the right kind of content.

The viewers of that video were what I call warm leads. They were looking to take action. But even better than warm leads are what I call hot leads. These are leads that are actually looking to buy the product and just need a push. The easiest affiliate marketing I have ever done is to these hot leads.

Have you ever searched for a product review? Someone told you that you should purchase a certain product and you wanted to do a little research first?

These are burning hot leads!

All they need is the slightest push and their credit card is out ready to purchase. Now obviously you want to be ethical and honest, but if you promote products that you genuinely believe in, this shouldn’t be a problem. All you have to do is get your positive review in front of the searcher and you have an affiliate sale.

I talk a lot more about this in my webinar – and teach it in my affiliate marketing course). I teach everything from how to find the keywords people are looking for, to how to show up in the searches.

Step 5 – Capturing Emails as an Affiliate Marketer

Everything discussed above is awesome and important, but there is another aspect every beginning affiliate marketer needs to understand to get started. The power of an email list.

While you may be just getting started with affiliate marketing, imagine a few years down the road when affiliate marketing is your primary source of income. You are bringing in decent wages, and growing your business on YouTube and Google.

Suddenly YouTube decides to change their rules. No affiliate links allowed. Or they decide they don’t like your channel and disband it. Or maybe Google updates the algorithm that chooses who ranks and your website falls from first to tenth, where no one ever clicks.

affiliate beginner's guide

Your business is over because it relied entirely on something or someone else. It had no true assets.

But what if you had a list of email addresses of everyone who had watched your videos and read your articles? That list is yours and you are legally allowed to send emails to it containing affiliate links. It is an asset.

When everything else goes haywire, you can still email affiliate offers to your email list and keep profits rolling in while you rebuild.

Sound important? That’s because it is essential.

How to Build an Email List (for Affiliates)

Hopefully everything above made you say “that’s great, but how!?”

You give people free stuff!

You may not even realize it is happening, but it happens to you every time you get on the internet. In fact, I’d bet on this article somewhere there is a popup or two that offers you a free training, a free webinar, or something of that nature.

affiliate marketing popup

I’m not trying to cheat you, I’m offering something of value in exchange for the right to email you and potentially sell you something.

I spend days and even weeks creating free valuable trainings that I can offer to my audience in exchange for an email address.

It’s not spam, it’s not dirty business,  it’s a good deal for everyone. You give me your email address and I give you a free training that teaches you how to do affiliate marketing.

On a YouTube video you can leave a link down below (don’t forget to mention it in the video) to a page that does the same thing. Offers something for free in exchange for an email address.

Now you have an email address that I can market other related affiliate products to in the future. Assuming they are good products that can benefit you, it is a win-win scenario.

Email Automation for Affiliate Marketers

Now what happens when someone puts their email address into my form? Well the first thing is they get what they were promised! I email them the free training and everyone is happy.

But guess what. No one ever made a million dollars from a free training.

The customer that has my free training has a long way to go. There is a lot of learning, growth, and mindset changes they need to achieve their goals.

If I am in the health niche, perhaps my audience need some physical products like weights. Or maybe it’s digital products like beach body or P90X.

A smart affiliate marketer knows this and uses email automation to increase his profits and further benefit his customer.

So after the first email goes out, he or she might wait a few days and then send out an additional email that lets the customer know about additional training that they could benefit from. Or maybe he lets them know about a product that can dramatically increase the speed at which they achieve their goals.

Rinse and repeat. Visually it might look like this…

affiliate marketing with emaikl

This is in Active Campaign – a software that does all of this for you so each person that gives you an email can get an automated email sequence that starts when they sign up and goes from there. Notice I linked to the Active Campaign review, which links to Active Campaign with an affiliate link. Also notice on that page I’m offering free training email marketing.

Lead with value. Sales follow.

Messenger Bots for Affiliate Marketers

We get a lot of people asking if instead of building an email list as a new affiliate marketer, they can use the new trend of Messenger bots.

Messenger bots are great.

But as I discussed above, you don’t own the list. Facebook can deny any messages it wants, and even shut down your account and remove all your subscribers.

So, while Messenger bots are useful as an affiliate (I use a software called Opesta) they should NEVER replace an email list.

Let’s Review

This article turned out much longer than I thought so let’s shrink it down for people just getting started with affiliate marketing.

  • Decide now that you will focus on providing value to your customers and followers.
  • Choose a niche and a sub niche of who your perfect customer is. The more specific the better. Choose something you like because you are stuck with it!
  • Choose affiliate programs and companies that offer products that can most benefit your perfect customer.
  • Choose how you will drive traffic to your affiliate products. I personally prefer search engines, but to each his own. Affiliates make money with both.
  • Create something for free that will benefit your audience that you can give away in exchange for an email. Info products work best so you only have one upfront cost.
  • Offer your free product on all content you create in exchange for an email. ClickFunnels is the easiest way to capture email addresses and build optin pages.
  • Create email automations that sell affiliate products to your audience once they put in their email address.

Statistics say that more than 90% of new affiliate marketers will never make a penny.

That’s because they don’t understand everything written in this article.

Once you have set up your affiliate business as written above it really becomes a traffic game. In my years as an affiliate I’ve realized this is all about content creation. The more content you create (think YouTube videos, Instagram posts, blog posts, etc.), the more you will start to see profits in your affiliate business.

Once you set up a lead magnet and a good email automation you simply need to get people to find out about it.

I’ve discussed multiple times in this article, but my free webinar goes into this in great detail. I’ve been able to achieve results I can’t even imagine by focusing on this. I’ve won two cars and made more money than I ever thought possible.  I’ve even helped more than a dozen other people win free cars.

None of that matters as much as the time that I’ve been able to earn back to send doing what I want with those I love. Affiliate marketing has the ability to create passive income like no other business can if you set it up right. Just make sure you do.

Affiliate Disclaimer: I may (and probably do) receive affiliate commissions from any products I recommend or links I put on this page. My opinions are my own but they are truthful and I do my best to recommend products that I have vetted and/or purchased myself.