Are you a beginner just getting started with blogging? In this article, I will teach how you can monetize a website or blog with affiliate marketing and get on your way to earning a passive income.
Welcome to Two Hour Blogger—the place where we teach you how to make a comfortable living off targeted niche blogs.
And while I’ve got you here, we also have a Facebook group for beginners linked down below in the comments. Feel free to join up and ask any questions you may have.
Affiliate marketing is bigger than it’s ever been, and just so you understand my experience, I make around $10,000 a month on my website. You can view my latest income report here. I should also mention that affiliate marketing isn’t some get-rich-quick scheme, either. It took me a solid three years to get to this level. I made plenty of mistakes along the way, and now I’d like to share my experience and, hopefully, set you on a path that’s faster and easier.
So, what exactly is affiliate marketing?
Simply put, affiliate marketing boils down to recommending a product, via a special link given to us from an affiliate program, and earning a commission from that product’s sale when a user to your site buys. The blogs we create aren’t entirely product-based, but you will make a significant amount of your income from product-based articles.
Here’s a quick run-down of the process:
- Pick a niche, which is a hobby or specific interest
- Find keyword opportunities with Google auto-suggest
- Check the competition
- Pick a brand name and get a URL
- Launch a new website
- Start creating content
Let’s break these steps down.
Right now, if you do a Google search for ‘best portable table saw,’ you’ll see a bunch of results on page 1 of Google ranking for the term.
Most of the websites you’ll see are niche websites. These sites are hyper-focused blogs that target one specific hobby or interest. These are the types of websites we aim to create.
Think about something you’re passionate about, and try searching best x for y, filling in x with a product and y with your hobby.
Now that you understand the types of queries we aim to target, the first step is to figure out what you want to blog about.
In the initial phases of your site, you’ll be the one writing all the content (unless you have a budget, but we’ll get to that later). In some cases, you’ll always be the one writing the content if it’s a skill or specialized niche, like my home improvement example. I strongly suggest being passionate about the topic, as it’s easy to get burnt out.
Let’s now make up a blog idea. Going with home improvement, let’s say you’re a carpenter who’s been in the trade you’re entire career. You’ve got a ton of experience could easily write about saws, hammers, tape measures, laser levels, utility knives, etc. There are tons of opportunities for different products, and many beginners are interested in fixing things around the house, remodeling, DIY, etc.
You have expertise in the field, so now let’s take a look at the competition. This step is crucial, as it’s possible this niche is entirely saturated, and you’ll never achieve success moving forward.
Analyze the competition before starting your blog
Let’s head back to Google again and look at the results for ‘best portable table saw.‘ For our example, the sub-niche in question is woodworking, and the broader niche is home improvement.
Identifying which of these results are niche sites is simple. Number one, the content has a specific look to it. It’s usually laid out in a list format, showcasing several products for the given search query. You’ll see reviews of each product, pros and cons, rankings, and a call-to-action to buy each.
The titles often are also dead giveaways. Look for ’10 Best,’ ‘Reviews,’ or the current year in the title. Look at the sites you see here and note how the content is written, formatted, along with the competition.
If you see ten results of article titles that are essentially the same thing, it’s probably a bad choice. However, if you see Facebook posts, Reddit threads, Pinterest results, Quora threads, or forum posts, you’ve got a winner.
In some cases, a competitive niche can be worth going after if you feel you can dominate the competition by creating something both higher-quality, more helpful, and more unique.
Use Google’s auto-suggest feature to find long-tail keyword results to niche-down to find opportunities. Long-tail keywords are much more focused searches with less search volume per month. Search volume is the number of estimated searches in a month. Type ‘best hammer ‘ into Google and let the auto-fill suggest long-tail keywords.
When I looked, I found the following:
- best titanium hammer for framing
- best laser level for outdoor use
- best tape measure for cutting drywall
- best tool belt for back pain
I like to use the Chrome extension Keywords Everywhere to see estimated search volume, but I still find myself using Google’s autosuggest without it.
When you find keywords with less competition, your job is to create an article based on the said keyword. If it’s well-targeted, low-competition, and decently written, you should win page one. Keep these keyword ideas written down. I suggest starting a notebook or a spreadsheet of ideas.
So we’ve settled on home improvement. While your specialty is carpentry, you can make the site broad enough to include all things home-related. You don’t want to go too specific, as you won’t grow in the future.
The next step is to search out affiliate programs in the niche to ensure 1. the commission rate is decent, and 2. there’s enough options to diversify.
I like to search Google for niche + affiliate program. Many websites list affiliate programs for specific niches, so be sure to search the options before starting your blog. According to one more cup of coffee.com, there are ten great options, not including Amazon and Home Depot.
If there’s a good selection of affiliate programs available, take note of them, but don’t sign up quite yet. Next, we need to come up with the brand name for your website.
I find that the best-named niche website brands have the main keyword in the URL with a modifier. Think sites like Home Advisor. There’s a certain ring to the name. Another good example is a site Income School started a while back called Drill Warrior (I believe they sold this website). It can be tricky to come up with a name, but getting this step nailed down will help your authoritative-ness and trustworthiness to users in the future.
I strongly advise against creating a brand name from a highly-searched keyword phrase, like besthammers.com. It sounds spammy, looks spammy, and doesn’t seem like a real brand name. Pick something unique that you, yourself, would trust when looking to buy a product.
Domain names and web hosting
Once you have a brand name you’re happy with, it’s time to get your domain name. The domain name is the .com you see when you visit websites. You’ll also need to pay for hosting, which usually is around $10 a month for new websites. You’ll usually only see an increase in cost once you hit 100,000 visits per month.
For new bloggers, I suggest starting with Siteground. I’m currently on WP Engine with my main website, but it’s a lot more expensive. Registering a domain will cost you around $15, and the monthly hosting fee is $7. The link to get started is in the description. It is affiliated, so if you use our link, we will get a commission.
I advocate against using free hosting platforms, as they are slower, often use ads to recoup hosting fees, and have lots of server downtime. That said, the choice is on you.
On our websites, we use a free software called WordPress. Siteground features an automated WordPress Launch wizard, so you can get to blogging quickly once you buy your domain and hosting plan. WordPress is just one of many content management platforms, but it’s the one most bloggers use today. It’s also the one we use for our sites and tutorials, so I suggest starting with it.
Once your site is up and launched, don’t worry about buying themes, plugins, or anything of that nature right away. It’s all about getting content out there for Google to find in the early stages, so they know it’s a real site and not some churn-and-burn spam website.
First, head over to Settings -> Permalinks. We want to change the default settings from Plain to Post Name. This change allows us to make custom URLs. Click save changes.
Check out our Facebook group to join other like-minded entrepreneurs!
Before writing your first article, I’d also suggest adding a few free plugins. Navigate to Plugins -> Add New. Search for Rank Math SEO, click Install, and then Activate. Rank Math is an SEO plugin that optimizes your website for Google’s search engine. Follow the instructions in the wizard and leave all the settings default.
I also suggest adding another free plugin: Google Analytics Dashboard for WP. This plugin connects to Google Analytics, tracking website visitors to your site. We need Analytics to monitor site performance as traffic starts to come to your site. Follow the prompts upon activating the plugin.
And if you have any problems during the setup of your site, hit me up in the Facebook group.
What kind of articles should you write for affiliate content?
Let’s get to writing and adding content to your website. There are three types of posts we write for niche websites:
I recommend creating five informational articles related to your niche and five list-based articles for your first blog posts. For our home improvement example, we could write informative topics like:
- how to cut drywall with a tape measure
- how to hammer a nail without a hammer
- how to remove a stripped screw without a drill
- how to cut a hole in drywall without dust
- how to notch a 2×4 stud
And buyer articles like:
- best titanium hammer for framing
- best laser level for outdoor use
- best tape measure for cutting drywall
- best tool belt for back pain
- best hand saw for cutting 2x4s
Since this is a general overview of how to get started with affiliate marketing, I won’t go too in-depth with writing and formatting.
There is a learning curve with writing articles, so I suggest researching how other websites write and format their posts. But for a basic overview, write concisely and in simple language. Imagine you’re the reader and are a beginner. Use your phone to take pictures to help the reader with any how-to content.
For most blog posts, I suggest trying to hit a word count on average of around 1,500 words, no less than 1,000. Google tends to reward more in-depth content. They do not like thin-content.
Once you have some informational articles up and published, it’s time to apply to some affiliate programs. For beginners, I suggest only starting with Amazon. Yes, the commission rate isn’t always the best, but you can get your feet wet and see how it works.
There are tons of guides on YouTube explaining how to sign up, but it’s quite simple. Head to the Amazon Associates website and click sign up. Follow the prompts, and soon, you’ll be inside the affiliate dashboard.
Once logged in, you can now visit any Amazon product page and get a unique affiliate link using the SiteStripe toolbar at the top of the browser. You can get product images, as well.
Writing your first affiliate article
For your first product list article, pick 5-10 products from Amazon to write about and review. Start with a quick introduction:
- Mention you were looking for a solution to a problem
- You did a lot of research
- You came across 5-10 different options
- This article reviews and analyses each with pros and cons
After your introduction:
- Identify yourself as an Amazon Associate. Add the following text: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This disclaimer is required per the Amazon operating agreement, as well as the FTC. We can add this to every post later on, but just add it in each post containing affiliate links.
- Use a new heading and list the first product. You can add new headings in the WordPress editor by clicking the big H button or adding a new block called Heading.
- Use H2s for your product names.
- Insert an image of the product below the heading. If you’re using the Gutenberg editor, you’ll need to add an HTML block and paste the code given to you from the Amazon Site Stripe toolbar.
Below your product image, write 300-400 words describing the product, your thoughts, and why someone should buy that particular product. Either below the image or at the end of the paragraph, use a button block with your affiliate link reading ‘View Price at Amazon.’
If you don’t own the products, that’s okay, but be sure to give an honest assessment from owners’ feedback. Whatever you do, do not use people’s reviews in your content. That’s a surefire way to get banned from the affiliate program. Also, never use a product’s description in your content. Basically, never copy anything directly from Amazon’s product page. You can summarize the reviews in your own words, but be sure to make it as unique as possible.
After reviewing each product, writing 300-400 words about each, pick one product that is the best overall, and write about it your conclusion.
Before hitting publish, we need to add a title, pick a category for the article, and change the permalink URL.
The title should be captivating but also keyword-rich. For our best titanium hammer for framing example, we could make the title: 10 Best Titanium Hammers for Framing in 2020 Reviewed. With this title, we get the main long-tail keyword, the year, and a number amount, giving the reader an idea of what to expect. Try to keep the title between 50-60 characters. Google will truncate the search title if it’s too long, and we don’t want that. Moz.com has a title tag checker, which I’ve linked here.
On the right sidebar of the editor, find a section called Categories. Here you can add your first category where you can organize your articles. For our example, we could make a category around Carpentry.
Finally, the permalink is the final URL. We want to change the permalink to something short yet keyword optimized. For our example, I’d suggest ‘best-titanium-hammers-for-framing.’ If you can’t change the permalink yet, it’s because you haven’t saved the post as a draft.
Once you’ve made these three changes, it’s time to hit the publish button. That’s the basic steps to creating a list-based affiliate article.
If you want to do product reviews instead of list-based content, you can do so. I find they don’t convert quite as well, but are just as essential to have on your site.
Walk around your house and find things you already own. Review these products! Include photos of you holding the product yourself. Not only is it honest; it adds so much to your website’s credibility.
The Google sandbox period
Once you have 10-20 articles up on your website, it’s time for it to sit. You can either continue to work on content for the site and publish regularly or wait for the site to get indexed in Google. There is what’s known as a sandbox period where Google attempts to figure out if your site is legitimate and what it’s all about. This process can take two to six months, and unfortunately, there isn’t much we can do to speed up the process. If you have any social media following, you can push traffic to your articles early on, though social traffic doesn’t convert the greatest.
If you picked low-competition keywords and have decent content, you should start to see some traffic flowing to your website within that timeframe.
As you start to get traffic, you should begin to see clicks and sales in your Amazon Associates dashboard. That’s the basics of how to start affiliate marketing in 2020 and onward into 2021. If you enjoyed the video, hit the like button, consider subscribing, and stay tuned for the next video. Thanks for watching.