In this guide, you’ll learn how to build a profitable affiliate marketing business by selling other people’s products!
So you want to be an affiliate marketer…
…or at least, you’re interested in learning more about affiliate marketing.
And you’ve come to the right place!
In this guide, we’re going to explain what affiliate marketing is, why it’s awesome, and exactly how you can use it to build a profitable business.
First thing’s first…
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is a business model where you sell other business’ products and make a commission on sales.
Average commissions commonly hover around 10%-20%, but you can sometimes get paid up to 50% — it all depends on whose products you sell.
Here’s how the process looks…
You promote another company’s products, usually with the use of a sales funnel and paid ads, and those companies pay you a percentage of revenue on every product that you sell.
To do this, you have to sign up for various affiliate programs.
Once signed up, the goal is to sell that company’s products.
You can do that with various marketing and advertising strategies that we’ll discuss here shortly (the “sales funnel” is the most powerful method we’ve discovered).
But don’t let its simplicity deceive you… affiliate marketing is an extremely effective and profitable business model.
Globally, the affiliate marketing industry is worth over $12 billion, 81% of brands rely on affiliate marketers, and affiliate programs generate 15%-30% of all sales for advertisers (indicating the success of the affiliate marketers as well).
The best part is… you don’t have to create, test, or ship your own product.
You just do the selling… and then you get paid.
Pretty cool, huh?
Now that you know what affiliate marketing is, let’s talk about how you can start a profitable affiliate marketing business in 6 simple steps.
How To Start Affiliate Marketing in 6 Steps
Here’s how you can start your own affiliate marketing business and start making money from the comfort of your sofa!
1. Choose Your Product/Affiliate Program
The first step is to choose what product you want to sell.
Ideally, choose something that fits the following criteria…
- Something you’re genuinely interested in — If you join affiliate programs for products that don’t spike your interest, you might find it difficult to actually make sales… because you aren’t interested in the products. So try to choose a product that you feel you can really get behind.
- Something with an excellent commission (above 20%) — The affiliate program you choose should provide you with more than 20% commission. That will allow you to spend money on advertisements and keep your business profitable. At ClickFunnels, we offer our affiliates up to 50% commission!
- Something that’s easy to sell — Finally, try to choose a product that you think will be easy to sell… something that is genuinely impressive and effective to its target market. The more that the product sells itself, the easier your job will be!
2. Choose Your Platform
As an affiliate marketer, if you want to build a long-term business, then you’ll want to consistently create content.
You could create a blog, start a YouTube channel, or build an Instagram following.
We recommend just starting with one platform and then sticking to a consistent content publishing calendar.
How often are you going to create content?
A few times per week is enough for most platforms.
Here are some of the platforms you might consider…
- YouTube— You can sell pretty much anything on YouTube. Consistency is key, though. Publish once per week or once per month… whatever is realistic for you.
- Pinterest— Pinterest is a great place to sell affiliate products to a mostly female audience. It’s recommended that you post at least 3 new pins per day.
- Instagram— Instagram is a great place to sell visual products… particularly things related to health, fitness, or travel. It’s recommended that you post at least once per day.
- Blog — You can also build your own blog. The main play here would be to focus on SEO and maybe drive some paid traffic to your blog posts. You should post at least once per month on your blog.
- Tik-Tok— This is a relatively new social platform with tons of potential. If you haven’t already made a decision, then you might give this a go while it’s ripe for the taking.
Note: Keep in mind that a lot of your first sales will come from paid ads. But as time goes one, you can build an organic audience on your platform and drive free traffic to your sales funnel that way.
3. Choose Your Audience
Most affiliate marketers forget to ask themselves the following, very important question: who are you trying to sell to?
If you don’t know who you are trying to sell to, then you’re going to have a heck of a time actually making sales.
In fact, finding your target market is half the battle of building a successful affiliate marketing business.
But you can only find where your target market is at if you first know who they are… so ask yourself the following questions…
- What pain is your target market trying to escape from?
- What pleasure is your target market chasing?
- What do they spend a lot of time thinking about?
- Where do they hang out online?
- How old are they, where do they live, and how much money do they make?
Pro-Tip: The affiliate program that you’ve signed up for already has all of this information. Looking at their website and their Facebook ads can give you information about who your target market is and how to sell to them.
4. Build Your Sales Funnel
It used to be that having a website was enough for building a successful affiliate marketing business.
But competition is larger than ever… and more importantly, people’s attention spans are shorter than ever.
Some data even suggests that our online attention spans are worse than that of a goldfish.
You only have a few seconds to capture each person’s attention. Then you have to keep their attention and get them to take the action that you want them to take.
Since a website is basically just a digital brochure or business card, it doesn’t do a very good job of keeping people’s attention and getting them to take action.
A sales funnel, on the other hand, is extremely effective.
If a website is a brochure or business card, then a sales funnel is like having your best salesperson guide each prospect to conversion… automatically.
There are different funnels for different things.
In the below video, Russell will show you how to create a Squeeze Page Funnel for your affiliate marketing business.
Also, Miles Beckler, an expert in the affiliate marketing space, recommends using the following affiliate marketing funnel…
The basic idea is that the first page gets you email subscribers, the second page builds trust, and the third page makes you money via affiliate offer.
That’s a great sales funnel to start with.
And you can use ClickFunnels to build it out (FREE for 14 days!)
Once you have your sales funnel — which is meant to guide people from interest to conversion! — it’s time to drive traffic.
5. Drive Traffic (Short-Term & Long-Term)
In order to start making money from you affiliate relationships, you need to drive traffic to your sales funnel.
After all… what good is a sales funnel without traffic?
There are two types of traffic that you’ll want to learn how to drive — long-term traffic and short-term traffic.
The other thing you’ll need to consider is the quality of that traffic. Are you driving the right people to your sales funnel, people within your target market?
(The higher quality traffic you drive, the better your conversion rate will be)
For short-term traffic strategies that will start driving people to your sales funnel right away, consider…
- Paid Ads — The best way to drive immediate traffic to your sales funnel is by running paid advertisements on a platform like Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, or even Google. When you choose your ad targeting options, try to only show ads to your ideal market. That will cut down on cost-per-click and keep your business profitable.
- Pro-Tip: On most platforms, you can run ads to other influencer’s followers. So choose a few influencers who have the same target market as you and run ads to their followers. That’s a good starting place.
And for long-term traffic strategies that will support your business for years to come, consider…
- SEO — Search Engine Optimization is the process of organically trying to get your content to rank for valuable phrases in a search engine (Google and YouTube, for example). It takes a long time to generate traffic this way, but it’s extremely lucrative once the ball gets rolling (give it at least 6 months of consistent content creation and optimization).
- Influencer Marketing — Building relationships with influencers is a great way to grow your affiliate marketing business. They can drive traffic to your sales funnel and you can do the same for them. Send out emails to influencers and get to know people in your space. This takes time but is well worth the effort.
6. Remember: Become The Expert!
Here’s a question…
Why would people buy someone else’s product through you instead of going straight to the source?
For example, why would someone purchase ClickFunnels through one of our affiliates rather than just going to our website and buying?
There are a few important reasons.
- It’s the first time they’ve heard about the product.
- The affiliate sold the product in a new and convincing way.
- The affiliate is considered to be a trustworthy expert.
The first and second reasons are why you should run paid ads… if you can target a new niche or sell the product in a new way, then you can make a lot of money!
But ultimately, if you want to build a sustainable affiliate marketing business… then you must become an expert in your niche.
You’ve got to become one of the go-to experts that people trust.
Because when people trust you… of course they’re going to buy the products that you recommend getting!
Miles Beckler, for example, owns a successful affiliate marketing business.
And people trust him because he creates genuinely helpful content, offers honest recommendations and reviews, and he’s been doing it for a long time.
He’s the expert that people trust.
The point is, building your affiliate marketing business isn’t an overnight process.
You’ve got to build your own audience, establish trust, provide consistent value, and then people will start buying the products that you recommend.
Stay the course and you’ll come out the other end with a winning business.
But let’s simplify this even further by looking at how you can make lots of money as a ClickFunnel’s affiliate.
Here’s a quick case study.
How To Make Money As an Affiliate Marketer [+CASE STUDY]
Check out the below video to learn how Sarah used ClickFunnels to go from a hobby blogger to becoming a successful online business owner, selling her own products and other people’s products!
What if we told you that you could do the same thing?
What if you could build a successful affiliate business with just one funnel and one product?
Well, you can.
In fact, we’ve made this process really simple for you.
In our One Funnel Away Challenge (which is only $100), we’ll help you become a ClickFunnel’s affiliate, launch your first funnel, and make your first sale!
It’s a 30-day experience where we give you the exact to-dos to launch your online business and start making money.
This is as simple (and effective) as affiliate marketing gets.
Go here to learn more.
17 Best Affiliate Marketing Programs to Join!.
Here are 17 of the best affiliate marketing programs that you should consider joining. We’ve split these into three different categories: affiliate marketplaces, ecommerce products, and service businesses.
Affiliate marketplaces are online platforms that allow you to become an affiliate for merchants who have signed up for the same platform. They are quite versatile and you should probably be signed up for at least a few different affiliate marketplaces.
This is a 20-year-old platform with more than 3,900 merchants to choose from. The amount of money you make will depend on which merchant’s products you sell.
ClickBank is an affiliate program that’s been around for more than 20 years. It’s affiliates have earned more than $4.2 billion in commissions. There are more than 4,000 products to choose from, and commission can be as high as 90%.
This is a relatively new affiliate platform that promises high-converting products and campaigns to affiliates. They also send out weekly payments.
These are ecommerce brands and products you can sell online at a hefty commission.
While Amazon only pays out up to 10% commission on its products, there’s no denying the vast array of products they allow you to sell. Every affiliate marketer should probably be signed up for Amazon Associates.
eBay has 1.4 billion listings and 183 million buyers in 190 markets. As one of the biggest ecommerce stores around, this is another affiliate program you should probably get signed up for.
Target is another huge ecommerce store that offers up to 8% commission on sales. Again, that’s not super high, but Target has a lot of different products for your to promote and that vastness is a good reason to sign up.
These are online SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) businesses with affiliate programs. Many of them offer recurring commissions.
At ClickFunnels, we pay our affiliates up to 40% recurring commission! You can sell our books, our memberships, or even our challenges. If you sign up for the One Funnel Away Challenge, we’ll even show you how to become a profitable affiliate within one month.
Carrot is a SaaS company that provides websites for real estate investors and agents. You can get paid 25% recurring commissions for the lifetime of customers who you get signed up.
Bluehost is one of the most popular website hosting platforms and domain search engines for WordPress websites. You’ll get paid $65 for each qualified sign-up.
ConvertKit is an Email Service Provider for companies that want to reach large audiences with their email marketing efforts. You can earn 30% commission for every new user that you get signed up for their service.
HubSpot is a large marketing company with lots of different software products. They have CRMs, chatbots, ESPs, and lots of other tools. You can earn up to $1,000 for each HubSpot product that your audience purchases.
AWeber is a well-established and well-trusted email marketing service provider. They pay 30% recurring commission to their affiliates and payments are sent monthly.
SEMRush is a tool that offers marketers lots of different SEO, PPC, and social media capabilities as well as the ability to do thorough competitive research. You can earn 40% recurring commission through their affiliate program.
Fiverr is a massive platform for freelancers and clients to meet each other and work together. With their affiliate program, you can earn up to 30% commission.
15. Constant Contact
Constant Contact is another email marketing service provider. You have to apply to get accepted for their affiliate program. Once accepted, you will make $5 for people who sign up for a free trial and $105 when referrals pay for a new account.
Coursera is one of the largest online platforms for online education and learning. People can go to the site and buy courses on almost any topic imaginable. You can become an affiliate and help sell courses on their site (choose from over 4,000) and earn up to 45% commission.
With the advent of the online course, it was only a matter of time until someone created a tool to help people create online courses. Teachable is that website. And you can promote Teachable as an affiliate to the tune of 30% commissions.
Follow These 6 Affiliate Marketing Experts For More Advice!
As with all online businesses, the affiliate marketing world is constantly changing and adapting.
In order to keep up, we recommend following these 6 affiliate marketing experts.
Sign up for their email lists, subscribe to their YouTube channels, and keep an eye on what they’re doing.
You’ll learn a ton.
Russell Brunson is the founder of ClickFunnels and he’s an expert at online marketing and building online businesses.
His advice will be priceless on your journey to affiliate marketing success.
2. Pat Flynn
Pat Flynn is the founder of Smart Passive Income where he shows you practical tips to making more money without more work. And one of his biggest areas of expertise is affiliate marketing.
You can learn a ton from following him.
3. John Chow
John Chow is one of the foremost authorities on creating profitable blogs, hosting successful webinars, publishing books, and even affiliate marketing.
5. Neil Patel
Neil Patel is one of the best and most well-known digital marketers around right now. He publishes content that helps people build online businesses. He has quite a lot of content that even talks about affiliate marketing.
6. Jon Morrow
Jon Morrow is the foremost authority on all things blogging. He can teach you how to monetize your blog through courses, memberships, and even affiliate marketing.
This is one guy that you definitely want to keep an eye on.
Miles Beckler is another expert on blogging, monetization of blogs, and affiliate marketing.
Follow him for tips and advice!
Quick Answers To Affiliate Marketing Frequently Asked Questions
In case you still have questions, here are some quick answers to some of the most common inquiries about affiliate marketing.
Q: Is affiliate marketing declining?
No. In fact, the affiliate marketing industry is steadily growing every year.
Q: Who are top affiliate marketing service providers?
At ClickFunnels, we offer up to 40% recurring commission (which means you get paid every single month). And our One Funnel Away Challenge makes it dead simple to build a successful affiliate marketing business.
Q: What are some of the reasons why someone would fail at affiliate marketing?
The main reasons are…
- They aren’t promoting products with high enough commission (at least 20%).
- They aren’t consistent with their advertising, promotion, and content creation.
- They don’t have an effective sales funnel.
If you followed the steps in this guide, you should be good.
Q: Is affiliate marketing a scam
No. Affiliate marketing is a legitimate, profitable, long-term business model.
Q: Is affiliate marketing profitable?
Yes — so long as you promote products with heft commissions and keep an eye on your ROI.
Q: How can I start affiliate marketing?
Follow the steps within this guide.
Q: How do I earn in affiliate marketing?Q: How do I earn in affiliate marketing?
Every program has a different method for getting you paid. You might get sent checks or you might receive direct deposits into your bank account. The timing of these payments will also vary from program to program. Some will pay you every week and others will pay you every month.
Q: Is affiliate marketing hard?
No. But it does require consistency and sticking to a proven process.
Q: Is affiliate marketing worth learning how to do?
Definitely. Many people make a lot of money from the comfort of their home with affiliate marketing.
Are You Ready To Start Your Affiliate Marketing Business?
You have everything you need.
At this point, the only thing that can stop you from launching a successful affiliate marketing business is… well, you.
You’ve got to make a decision, follow the proven process that we outlined above, and stick with it.
The longer you stick with it, the more success you’ll achieve.