• Ben Webby

What I've Learned in my First Month of Affiliate Marketing

Updated: Jul 17

A breakdown of everything you need to know about starting an Affiliate Marketing Blog. From choosing your niche, setting up your website, creating content, and driving traffic. This is what I learned in my first month, some helpful do's and don'ts for any beginner affiliate marketer.

Choose your Affiliate Marketing Channel

If you want to get into Affiliate Marketing, you need to know what method you are going to use to post content and earn your commissions. There are a lot of ways for you to do this. You can start a youtube channel, create a sales funnel, start a blog, or create a review website.

These are just a few beginner options, you want to choose the method that interests you the most. If you like to write, then look into a blog or review page. If you're good on camera then start with a Youtube Channel. It's all about testing and seeing what works for you. To start, I picked Blogging as my main method of posting content.

Once you pick the channel you want to post your content to, the next step is Choosing Your Niche.

It can be challenging knowing what niche to choose, as you are unsure of what areas you may be good at talking about. I recommend writing down all the topics that you find interesting and are related to your life somehow, then brainstorm from there.

After doing this exercise myself, I came up with Travel, Self Improvement, Business, and Finance. I made a long list but these 4 areas seemed like a good place to start. A lot of affiliate marketing experts recommend choosing one narrow niche when first beginning, but I find this a boring approach that limits content creation.

Setting up your Website

I use Wix for setting up my website and writing my blogs on. They have 1000's of ready-made templates for you to set up a site in under an hour. Here is a step-by-step guide to creating your own website with Wix.

This video on youtube is also really helpful. It clearly shows how to create a blog on Wix. Just follow along and you'll have a blogging site in an hour.

All you have to do to create your website is; sign up to Wix for free, choose a template from their blog templates, edit the words and photos on each page, buy a domain name and you're away!

Sign up to Affiliate Marketplaces

There are millions of different companies online that you can become an affiliate for. If the company has an online membership, chances are they will have an affiliate or ambassador program. The easiest way to manage all your advertisers is through affiliate marketplaces like CJ Affiliate, ClickBank, and AWIN.  Amazon Affiliate Network was one of the first-ever affiliate programs online. You can become an affiliate for basically every product that is listed on Amazon. You just have to apply to their affiliate program and you will get an extension on your browser. So when you search Amazon, if you go to a product listing, you can get a unique affiliate text or image link to post on your blog or content. That will earn you commissions if customers purchase products through your links.

Once you have a website or blog set up, you can sign up for all of these affiliate marketplaces. I found that scrolling through the affiliate marketplaces helped me come up with ideas for writing content. When I began affiliate marketing blogging, I originally signed up for these affiliate marketplaces: Amazon, ClickBank, and CJ Affiliate. All are free to use and really easy to set up.  Once I had created my accounts, I scrolled through ClickBank's popular advertisers and got links for products or services related to my starting niche topics. It's easy to get accepted to ClickBank’s affiliate programs and most advertisers allow you to automatically get links without applying.

I personally don’t like ClickBank's advertising options. I view a lot of them as click-baity, low-quality programs that don’t add value to my readers.  CJ Affiliate has a lot of reputable affiliate programs on its platform and it has a much more modern interface. However, it’s not as easy to get advertisers to accept you into their programs. If you’re new to Affiliate marketing and have a brand new website, I recommend applying for as many affiliate programs as you can so that you're more likely to get accepted to some. On CJ Affiliate, you have to write a small message describing why you would be a good person to advertise and drive traffic to the advertiser's company. To do this, write out a small paragraph that outlines your business's qualities and how you reach your target market. Then copy and paste this on all applications that you can find, relevant to your site. When I began I sent out about 50 applications, personalizing it a little for each application. This should take you about an hour.  I ended up getting rejected by a lot of the advertiser programs I originally applied for, but 9 of the 50 accepted me, so I had some links to start with and I could add these into my blog posts.  After a week of Affiliate Marketing blogging, I signed up to AWIN Marketplace, this is my favorite affiliate marketplace so far. They charge $5 USD to sign up to their platform, but this is returned to your account when you get your first payout. I have been using that as my main platform ever since. They have some really good advertisers on their site that you can be an affiliate for. I've signed up to Trusted House Sitters, Fiverr, Eatwith, Europcar, and a lot more. AWIN was the platform that I earned my first commission through!

Creating Content: Blog Writing

You need to get as much quality content uploaded to your site, as fast as you can. The more content you can create, the higher chance you have of bringing traffic to your site.

Creating Content is the most important step when you start affiliate marketing blogging. If you want to run a successful blog, content is key.

My goal was to get 30 blog posts published on my Wix site, in my first month. This would give me a good base for my affiliate site. I knew 30 was going to be quite a lot of work, but I aimed to do one a day and I was able to reach that goal by day 30.

The reason you want to get as much content online, as quickly as possible, is so that it has a chance to rank on google, or youtube. Google ranks content by how much value it provides the reader, it checks this through keywords and user behavior on your site. To improve your ranking, you need to have better quality content.

Personally, I had always liked the idea of writing but had never done a lot of it. So I was unsure about how to write quality content. The best strategy to improve your writing is to practice writing. The more you write, the better you become. The more research you do on your niche, the more quality information you can provide to your users. So just start.

When I found a topic I wanted to write about, I would do some keyword and competitor research on Ubersuggest. Then I would base my blog post structure on the 12 Step Copywriting Guide. This helped me so much in understanding what it takes to write an interesting article and how to grab your reader's attention. I put up 30 blog posts in 30 days at around a total of 24,000 words. This blows my mind because, at college, I would struggle to complete a 1500 word essay in a month. From the 1/19-1/26, I had a content creation week and was able to write around 12500 words. I had a lot of time to write and tried different tactics to find strategies that increase my writing production.

Strategies for Improving your Writing and Publishing Process

As I've mentioned, Content Creation is the most crucial step in creating a successful affiliate marketing blog. So we need to make our writing and publishing process as efficient and effective as possible. But how do we do this? We have some Strategies.

Batching: Separate your writing and publishing processes. Set a time block specific to writing content alone, then set another time block for your publishing process a few days later.

This allows me to be a lot more unbiased and I can edit my work in a more objective way. If I've just spent 2 hours writing a post and then have to proofread it and publish it straight after. I am much less critical of my work. As I don't want to remove any of the hard work I've done, even if it's not good reading material. 

So if I separate my draft writing process from the publishing, I am able to be less attached to my work. This hopefully allows me to put out cleaner, more readable blog posts. 

Pomodoro Technique: I found that the Pomodoro Technique, which is 25 mins of focused writing, then a 5 min rest, then repeat. It helped me to write when I didn’t have much time or was just being lazy.

I could sit down for 25 minutes and work, then decide whether I wanted to do another 25 minutes or move onto something else. This allowed me to be much more effective and efficient with limited time.

Write or Nothing: A tactic I heard about on the Tim Ferriss Podcast was Write or do Nothing. You go to your usual place for writing, remove all distractions, and put yourself in the right frame to write. Then you either write, or you do nothing. 

If you are writing and lose focus or motivation, that's completely fine. You're allowed to stop. But don't do anything else to distract your attention, don't check your phone or browse the internet. Just sit and do nothing.

It can be a nice break, but you'll get pretty bored of it after a while. Then you get back to writing. It's a great tactic if you often find yourself being distracted easily, or want to train yourself to have a longer attention span while working. 

Implement different strategies for your writing and publishing processes. The main key is to overcome the resistance in your head and just sit down and write.

Driving FREE Traffic

I wasn't overly focused on trying to drive traffic to my website in the beginning. Affiliate marketing blogging is a marathon, not a sprint. The best way to drive traffic is to post your content and wait for it to rank on google. This can take on average 35+ weeks, so you need to be patient. This is how you create organic traffic which will pay you commissions, creating a passive income.

Craigslist Free Traffic Method:

All of my traffic in month 1 has been from free or organic sources, I got over 250 unique visitors in my first month. These were largely sourced from free craigslist ads. I made 2 or 3 accounts and would post in the housing section of popular cities in the US. Advertising that we needed housesitters urgently, this takes them to my website and then ideally through to the affiliate program.  This method worked really well at generating free traffic until all my posts started getting flagged. This is due to craigslist seeing lots of posts go up in different locations from one account or IP Address. So they delete them to prevent spam. I haven't been able to find a way around this yet, so just start slowly, spread your posts out over a few days to ensure they don't immediately get flagged. 

Pinterest Free Traffic Method:

My second source of free traffic is Pinterest. Until I started affiliate marketing blogging, I had never used Pinterest. I don't have a lot of interest in it for personal use, but it is a powerful tool for marketing your business. So I created a Pinterest account on January 16th and then signed up to a website called Tailwind. This service is amazing, you link it to your Pinterest account and helps boost your growth, it's a great way to get your account up and running in a more automated way.

How to make pins:

Canva is by far the best free tool online for making Pins. They have a paid membership, but everything I need to use on there is free and it's so easy to make a lot of pins at once.

I've never been good at computer design or art, but Canva makes it so easy. My technique for Canva is to get 10-20 different templates, add background photos relevant to some of my latest blog posts. Edit the writing so it suits my blog, and that's it!

Once I have made 10 or so pins, I will upload them to my Tailwind publisher. Here you need to write a catchy header, a relevant description, a few keywords for further reach, then URL link it to your blog post. Then add to tribes and schedule the post.

You can schedule up to 100 pins on the free Tailwind account. So once you've made the pins on Canva, you bulk upload them to Tailwind. This adds them to a schedule of pre-set times that they will be posted at over the next week or so. Depending on how many you create. The best part about Tailwind is the tribes. On a free account, you can join 5 tribes and share a total of 30 pins with your tribes, per month.  Tribes are the best way I've found to boost your Pinterest following.

Tailwind Tribes:

First, you need to create 10 Pinterest boards, these are like online albums, fill these boards with 10 pins each. When making boards, it's a good idea to make them relevant to the niches you target on your blog.

You also want to have 100 or so followers. You can achieve this in a few days by simply following people who follow back. I would try and follow 50-75 people a day when you first start your Pinterest account.

This will make your Pinterest account look more official when you start joining tribes and you are much more likely to get accepted into them.

Most tribes have a rule of sharing 1 tribemates pin per pin you upload to the tribe. So be sure to share other people's pins that you like on tailwind. This will grow your account and mean that you can upload more of your pins to your tribes. 

The benefit of tribes is that when you upload a pin, it shares this pin to your tribemates also, and hopefully, they will repin to their own boards. This is how you grow your Pinterest following. In nearly one month on Pinterest, I have 4.5k Monthly Viewers, 493 Followers and my pins have 7.03k Impressions

Tailwind hack:

The full Tailwind membership costs $120 USD/year, this allows you to have an unlimited amount of pins scheduled, and access to analytics for your pins. I am looking at buying the monthly package at $15 USD/month to allow me to schedule 400 pins a month.

Click here for one free month of Tailwind! In the meantime, however, I discovered a little hack to maximizing your free tailwind account.

To start, make 2 or 3 more fake Pinterest accounts. Then link each of these profiles to a new Tailwind account. Don't worry about doing the 100 pins, 10 boards, 100 followers on your new accounts. Just join the tribes that are open invitation. Then share a few of your tribemate's posts so that you are contributing to the group.

Once you have shared a few posts from each tribe. While logged into one of your fake accounts, search for your main Pinterest account and schedule all the pins you want shared with tribes from here. Repeat this for every fake Tailwind account that you make and you will maximize your Pinterest traffic.

If you create 4 new Tailwind accounts and join 5 different tribes in each of these. You will have 120 pins you can share with your tribes per month (30 shares per account per month). This is an awesome FREE way to increase your following on Pinterest and your blog.

My First Commission and How much money I’ve made in my first-month Affiliate Marketing:

The first company that I made a commission through was with Trusted House Sitters. Along with paying 20% commission on all memberships, they pay you 50 cents per lead. A lead is when a user signs up, and puts their information in. They don’t even have to pay for a full membership and you earn a small commission.   I cannot explain how excited I was when I saw my first lead sign up to Trusted House Sitters and I earnt my first commission. My AWIN account showed 50 cents. It’s only 50c and I was over the moon. It felt like I was finally getting some reward for my hard work.  To date, I have made $12.50 total in my first month of Affiliate Marketing blogging, and this was all through AWIN and Trusted House Sitters. Which is the program I created the most content for and drove the most traffic to.

What Not To Do When You First Start Affiliate Marketing:

  • Avoid being crippled by choice, there are millions of niches, and thousands of ways to market your content to your niche. Spend a little bit of time on choosing your niche and marketing channel and then run with it. Don't be so worried that it isn't going to work that you never start.

  • Don't get so caught up in watching how to aff marketing videos on youtube that you never actually do any work. There are so many great resources and motivational videos for digital nomads online, but it's easy to just watch video after video and never get anything done.

  • Your work isn’t going to be perfect, especially not in the beginning. So instead of watching everything, there is to watch on youtube. Set some goals and take massive action towards those. 

  • Don't spend all your time looking at your analytics, like site visits, blog post reads, clicks, or commissions. It feels like you're doing work because it's related to your website. But you can get addicted to watching these and it removes the focus from a long term game.

  • This business is a marathon, not a sprint, and checking your analytics every few hours can make it seem like you aren't getting anywhere. By all means, check them, but do it every couple of days and try and be objective.

Don't let analytics or commissions define your success as an affiliate marketer. Especially not in the beginning. In your first 6 months, it should be all about content creation and getting as much work online as you can. 

Further Reading

Fast Forward: 6 Months of Affilaite Marketing update

Here is a step by step guide on creating your own Wix website

Want to write better website content? Find out how here.

Get your website found on Google with these 15 SEO tips and tricks

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