This guide to affiliate marketing for beginners comes from Michael Benkovich, who’s been making a living online since 2007 from a variety of projects including an anatomy course and even a carpet cleaning site. Throughout that time he has developed skills in everything from affiliate marketing to product creation.
Starting with simple projects a decade ago he managed to move on to larger and larger businesses, culminating this year when he sold his largest business to date.
This guide doesn’t cover any of the complexities of that process. Instead it gives you a clear roadmap for getting started and shows you exactly how you can make your first few hundred dollars online.
You’re gonna love it. Take it away, Mike!
Getting started making money online is as easy as following a few steps — steps that I’m going to outline for you in this how-to guide.
What you’ll learn is a step by step process that is all but guaranteed to make you a couple of hundred dollars per month via affiliate marketing.
The setup is minimal and once things are flowing it really is as close to passive income as you can get.
But before we get to that…
Who I Am And Why I’m Worth Listening To
To be completely honest with you, as Internet marketing gurus go, I’m a nobody. You won’t find anything about me on Google, I have no social media presence and no blog.
Truth is, for every Neil Patel, there are hundreds of anonymous people making a living online. The only difference is we have no personal brand and nothing to promote.
Why am I telling you this?
It’s simple! I have very little to gain by giving away my method other than the fun of sharing it. I hope that instills some trust in my advice.
The process I’m going to teach you is exactly how I got started 9 years ago. Since then I’ve traded my way up in business size. I moved from affiliate marketing to creating digital products. From there I launched my own agency then moved into creating software.
It all culminated this year when I sold my largest business to date and am now enjoying a mini-retirement.
In short, I’m nobody special and if I can do it so can you.
See? Here’s me with my 3 favorite things: hummus, falafel, and juggling.
Proof My Affiliate Marketing Method Works
Before I break down the method let me tell you how it came about and how I used it to trade my way up to larger projects.
In 2008 I first became interested in affiliate marketing. I attended a ‘make money online‘ seminar run by some sleazy internet marketer. The seminar was a total scam (nothing but upsells) but it piqued my curiosity enough to keep digging. It wasn’t long until I stumbled across a method that worked.
I know what you’re thinking… “Michael, why are you talking about 2008. The internet has changed and nothing that worked back then will work today”.
I deny that, and can prove it.
In April 2017 a friend asked for my help getting started in affiliate marketing. Below are his results so far by using this technique:
Nick’s Notes: This screenshot was taken in mid-December, so you can project out what the full-month might look like.
In less than 6 months his website was making around $200/month. Not bad for a complete noob who knew nothing about affiliate marketing.
You see, good marketing never goes out of fashion.
Imagine you did this 5 times to generate $1000/month. That’s what I did and it gave me the leeway and funds to invest in more significant projects and build a business.
Who Is This Method For?
Those looking for their first side hustle or just starting in affiliate marketing will find the most value here.
If you have advanced marketing skills or already have something in the pipeline with potential don’t get distracted with this. Keep chugging away and kick some goals with your current project.
If, however, you’ve tried and failed a few times or don’t know where to start then this guide is for you. It will help get ‘learn the ropes’ and get started with your first affiliate marketing side hustle.
Convinced? OK, Let’s Get Down To It
You’ll be building a small affiliate site that generates revenue via one product line. Specifically, you’ll create content around reviews and information on the product.
I call it a ‘niche product affiliate site’.
Unlike an authority site (huge market, like “weight loss”) or a niche site (niche within a market, like “lose belly fat”) a product affiliate site has a hyper narrow focus.
You won’t have to do much convincing for people to buy the product. Instead you’ll be the last link in the chain and will be driving buying traffic for people who already know about it.
The plus side is that the competition is low and conversions super high.
I’m going to run you through everything step by step. If you follow this guide I see no reason why you can’t be generating a couple of hundred dollars per month.
I’ll cover the following:
- Finding a market
- Finding a product to promote
- Validating the product
- Building the website
- How to come up with content ideas
- Marketing The Site
Do Small Affiliate Marketing Sites Still Work?
I understand the concern.
There’s a stigma around small sites and concerns that they’ll be punished by Google.
In my opinion small sites aren’t the problem. Crappy sites are the problem!
The real problem is that many people are simply too lazy to do this properly. They cut corners, do a bad job and then complain when they get punished by Google.
Don’t be one of those people!
I’m not advocating building low quality sites. I’m advocating building high quality sites with a very narrow focus and hyper targeted audience.
Google wants to deliver the best content it can to its users. Be the provider of that content.
For This Guide, Let’s Look at a Test Market
I would love to show you the actual site I’ve been working on with my friend, but I know that story ends with a boatload of competitors — and I’d like to stay friends.
For that reason I’m going to build the case study around a market that I’m not involved with.
1. Find a Market
Selecting the right product is the most important part of the process.
You need to select a product that’s in a market with high demand. I can’t tell you which market to enter but I would encourage you to select one you’re interested in. It will make the process more tolerable.
Start high-level before exploring the market for a product to promote. To do this, use Google trends.
Trends is an awesome free tool that will show you search volume over time.
After some brainstorming I came across the term ‘Nootropics’. Nootropics are supplements that enhance brain function.
The Trends data for the last 5 years shows an increase in searches. Last year was a little flat but there is still a huge demand:
This looks like a good market to enter.
Nick’s Notes: My interpretation of Google Trends is that it shows relative search interest over time, not necessarily raw search volume. But it makes it easy to see if interest is increasing or decreasing over time.
Consider The Piggyback Principal, in which you try to “piggyback” on the popularity of another product, service, or trend.
2. Find a Product to Promote
The next step is to find a product to promote.
Type the following into Google (or whatever keyword you found in Step 1):
- best nootropics products
- compare nootropics products
- top 10 nootropics
Spend some time researching the products that are out there. Add the most commonly mentioned products to a spreadsheet as you go to keep track.
Once you find a few products that look promising go back to Google Trends and compare them all. What you’re looking for is a product that has an upward trajectory.
For example, in the Nootropics market, I found ‘Mind Lab Pro’ whose data looks like this.
There is an upward trajectory in search volume for this product name. Very promising!
Double check the product itself has some direct demand by using Google’s Keyword Planner tool. This tool gives you data on exactly how many people search for a specific keyword.
Type in the
If you’ve never run an Adwords campaign before you will receive a range. In this case 1K – 10K. If you have active campaigns running (which I don’t) you will see a specific number.
I never fixate too much on exact numbers. If there are at least 1000 monthly searches that is more than enough demand to move on to the next step.
Nick’s Notes: Keep in mind the “Competition” score inside the Keyword Planner is for advertisers, not necessarily for SEO — though it stands to reason that “high” competition paid keywords are likely highly competitive in the organic listings too, and vice versa.
If you’re stuck, I also compiled a giant list of the best affiliate programs here.
3. Validate The Product
We’ve discovered a product that has plenty of interest, but that’s only the first piece of the puzzle.
Do some further validation on the product to make sure its worth your while to promote it via a website.
Make Sure There’s an Affiliate Program
Simply Google ‘
The exception might be if they sell on Amazon and you can use the Amazon Associates Program.
Nick’s Notes: I don’t have any issue with a third party affiliate network, so don’t let that deter you if the company runs their affiliate program through Shareasale, CJ, Rakuten, or others.
Make Sure the Payout is Decent
You don’t want to be making all this effort for $1 or $2 per sale. Try to find a product that is going to pay you at least $10/sale or more. For my friend’s site that’s earning $200 a month, he receives between $5 and $30 per sale.
Nick’s Notes: Unless it’s a really high-priced product, $10 per sale is going to be tough if you’re relying on Amazon Associates, due to the average 4% commission rate.
Make Sure the Product is Legit
The last thing you want to do is promote a dodgy product so I try to make sure it has a solid track record.
Jump over to Google and search for ‘
If it looks legitimate, has been around for a while and is well-reviewed then you’re good to go.
Check the Organic Competition
Your goal is to rank for ‘review’ and information type keywords related to the product. Head over to Google and search for ‘
If you see a bunch of high authority websites ranking you may want to avoid…