I know first-hand that learning how to start a blog (let alone make money from it) can be a massive undertaking.
So, I put together a free master course for you to take that spreads out all of the work involved in starting a blog, into a series of action-packed lessons. My free course breaks the entire process of starting a blog down into an incredibly simple 7-day process for going from 0 to brainstorming the best blog post ideas, publishing (and promoting) your first blog post in just 1 week. We also cover beginner and advanced ways to learn how to make money blogging in the course. I can’t recommend it enough.
Once you’ve launched your blog (or niche website), the next step is figuring out which products and companies you can partner with as an affiliate to help facilitate sales of a related, helpful product for your audience of future readers.
In a nutshell, affiliate marketing is selling someone else’s product by referring customers to their online store. If you can create content (on a blog) or a resource so valuable to the people looking for a certain product and then send them to where they can actually buy it, you’ll receive a predetermined percentage of each sale.
It takes time and effort, but website owners like myself and Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income, have built life-changing careers through affiliate marketing. In fact, Pat even publishes his income reports online, showing how he made over $2 million in the past 12 months alone.
Let’s start with the basics of building your niche website and blog, then get into how affiliate marketing will work for you.
First, you need to research and validate a profitable affiliate niche. What this means is: Are there companies in your niche who will pay you to send customers their way?
You can check this in a number of ways:
Become an Amazon Associate and then use Keyword planner to find an in-demand niche: With more than a million different products to choose from and up to 10% commission the sales you drive, Amazon’s affiliate program is a great place to get started. Browse their available products and see what connects with you. Or take it a step further and use Google’s Keyword Planner to quickly check how many people are searching for a specific term. With affiliate marketing, the more relevant traffic you can pull in, the more you’ll make off your site.
Sign up for a reputable affiliate network: Aside from Amazon, there are dozens of large reputable affiliate networks, such as Share-A-Sale, Clickbank, and Skimlinks, that specialize in connecting you with merchants who are looking for affiliates to sell their products. They charge relatively low commission fees for the privilege of connecting you with merchants, and the merchants on these sites tend to offer much higher commission percentages or set dollar amount payouts.
Research individual companies in your desired niche: If possible, it’s always better to become an affiliate directly with a company (if they have an internal affiliate program), as no one else will be dipping into your commission rate. This is the preferred route for most of the prominent affiliate marketers, including Pat Flynn. Unfortunately, it’s also the most work, as you’ll have to do the research yourself to see who offers programs (they’re usually listed in the website footer).
Now that you know your niche and have signed up for relevant affiliate programs, it’s time to build out your site and blog to start driving traffic.
Start by finding and buying a domain name (such as www.myaffiliatesite.com) that works for your niche on a domain registrar like Bluehost, NameCheap or GoDaddy.
Bluehost even has a nifty domain name availability checker you can use right here to quickly find out whether or not your desired website URL is available (and if it’s not, they’ll give you suggestions on the next best idea).
Once you’ve got your domain name, you’ll need a platform to build your site on. While you could pick a free option like Tumblr, Blogger, WordPress.com or another website builder, these won’t give you the flexibility or authority you need to build a truly successful affiliate site.
Instead, go with a self-hosted site (like my blog here is)—this means your blog will be hosted on your own server and you’ll have full control over it. There are tons of highly reputable, affordable companies you can choose to host your website, like Bluehost, Kinsta, or A2 Hosting.
Then once you’ve got your domain name and hosting sorted out, it’s time to pick a CMS, or Content Management System, that will let you update pages, build your blog and integrate with all the other services you need. It’s hard to go wrong with WordPress—the CMS powering close to a quarter of the internet. Keep in mind that eventually as you start growing traffic to your blog, you’ll be wise to invest in a managed WordPress hosting plan from a company with great service like Kinsta, where all of the settings are custom-tailored and optimized to work particularly well with WordPress-powered websites.
Now next, you’ll want to pick a WordPress theme from somewhere like ThemeForest, Elegant Themes or OptimizePress. This is the barebones design of your site, which you can then customize with your own branding, copy, and images. That being said, you don’t want to cheap out. It costs less than $100 to buy a theme that will make your website look professional (and you can upgrade to a completely custom design once you get the business going).
Like I said, this process can be a bit overwhelming. And that’s why I put together this free master course to help break this entire process down into easy to follow steps that’ll get your blog off the ground and generating readers in less than 1 week.
Finally, once your blog is officially launched, it’s time to start creating content that will drive traffic to your affiliate partner’s site. Here’s what I mean by that:
Let’s say I’m an Amazon affiliate for camping gear, and I want to write an exhaustive, in-depth blog post and review of the “50 Best Hiking Backpacks for Adventuring Outdoors.” By running a quick Keyword Planner check on the organic search volume I can see that there’s around 5,500 monthly searches for the keyword ‘hiking backpacks’ alone.
If my piece of content is so unique and valuable around hiking backpack recommendations, that other reputable outdoor websites are willing to link to it and build the page’s authority, then I’d have a very real opportunity to rank high in organic search for these search terms (meaning, my page will come up first when someone searches for hiking backpacks).
Since it’s safe to assume that the purchase intent on searches for hiking backpacks is pretty high, the next logical step is that a reasonable number of site visitors would click through using my affiliate links and complete a purchase, over time.
While it often takes a significant amount of time and hard work to build up your affiliate income, if you have the ability to regularly publish high quality content that drives in targeted traffic to your website, this online revenue source can become quite substantial. Follow along with my experiment growing a completely new finance blog MoneyTalk, into an additional revenue stream for my business.
Check out my Ultimate Guide: 10 Steps to Start a Blog on the Side for my free 20,000 word guide to starting a blog and building it into an income-generating business today. After that and once you’re ready to take your blogging journey seriously, consider investing in your education with one of these top blogging courses.
Oh! And if you’re specifically interested in starting a mom blog for yourself, then check out this detailed guide from my friend Suzi over at Start a Mom Blog and she’ll give you extremely curated advice for that niche 😊