How To Start An Affiliate Blog

It's been about 3.5 years since I first started blogging, having learnt the majority of 'how to blog' from course such as Savage Affiliates and group like Warren Wheelers Affiliate Ninjas. 

I don't believe getting started with blogging, especially affiliate blogging is massively hard, but it does require a few steps to get started, it can technically be done in 5 days (If you prefer having some videos and take away documents, I recommend signing up to the free blog builder course).

But, I will say it takes some energy and perseverance, especially as blogs can take a little time to get going (especially if you forget about them for 18 months) so this whole article is going to go over all the different details and ideas to give you an idea on how to start an affiliate blog, from scratch. 

A few things you are going to need to help you succeed with this, and they can be free or paid for, entirely up to you and your budget, will include;

  • The right mindset
  • An idea or niche
  • A domain name 
  • Hosting (I will explain how to get free hosting later)
  • A keyword research tool (Again, free and paid for options available)

Of course this step-by-step is going to follow the same principles of mine and Sams' 5 day blogger bootcamp, because it's an awesome framework and training, and it sets it out perfectly, but not everyone wants to sit and watch videos, so this is for you guys. 

Getting Started - Time to get into the right Mindset

Most people don't talk about 'mindset' when it comes to affiliate marketing, or if they do they try and make it into Gandalf style magic, hocus-pocus stuff whereby if you say the phrase 'I will be a billionaire' 5x in the mirror you magically wake up with $24Billion the next morning. 

This is not that kind of mindset, this is understanding that you are trying to build something amazing, something that can be grown and expanded upon long term.  A big mistake a lot of people make is that they see it as a hobby, something you do in your spare time, sadly, having such a belief can sometimes stop you from growing. It can limit what you do, because you never believe it will make you any money or become successful. 

Sometimes, you just need to have a little faith, and be willing to put some time and energy into this, as well as understanding this may take a few months to start seeing momentum and growth. This is not something that will happen overnight or in a few weeks (if that's your style then I would say check out SAA and learn network and organic marketing).

If you are real with yourself, you understand that you are going to be spending a few hours a day (yes it will replace Netflix and chill) on this for the next few months, then you have already won part of the battle when it comes to starting an affiliate blog. 

Picking Your Niche, And Ultimately A Domain

I have always been a big believer in finding a niche that you actually enjoy or are knowledgeable about. When I first started I went for the DropShipping and eCommerce niches, because I had a few years experience and had started to build up a really good knowledge base. 

But it's a difficult niche, as are the fitness niches and most wealth / make money niches. If it wasn't for the fact I found the topic interesting, I would have given up a lot sooner, because it can be disheartening writing content and no one really seeing it, especially when you just start out. 

That being said, if you are knowledgeable about a certain topic, and feel you can create something with it and believe it can be useful to others, then I would say go for it! Pretty much every single niche has a demand or an audience that can be accommodated for, so don't be scared about picking a slightly odd niche.

Some good tips to follow would be to look at the following;

  • Write down your Passions
  • Write down your Expertise
  • Write down next to them the demand (are there videos out there, do blogs exist or are there Facebook groups that cater for these areas)

If you can find something that has ticks in all 3, then boom you are golden, if you find one that only ticks 2 then still a good start, but if you can only really fill 1 box, I would try and keep brainstorming and thinking.

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Once you have thought of a niche, it's a good time to think of a domain, now for me I like to get domains from sites such as 123Reg or NameCheap. But you can also be sneaky and get free domains if you take out hosting with sites such as BlueHost or SiteGround

I usually spend a bit of time on these sites throwing in domain name ideas, I try to think of these steps when it comes to choosing a new domain name;

  • What is your niche?
  • Who will be your main audience
  • Are you building a brand around it, or simply focusing on that niche (For example AvidMarketer is now a brand and covers multiple niches, but something like GolfReviews would be seen as niche focused)
  • Is your domain readable - I used to have TheOnlineStudent, which was always a pain to type in... and many didn't get it. 
  • How many niches are you going to expand too? If you are really specific such as GolfShoesForTinyChildren you may hinder your expansion later

As with the niche, it's about finding that sweeeet spot. 

Got the perfect domain and niche? Awesome, time to find ourselves some hosting. 

Sorting Out Hosting

So, before I carry on with this, people will argue that X host is the best, or Y host rocks. Cool, there are hundreds out there, all of whom are pretty damn good. No doubt about it, these are just a few of them that I have tried in the past. 

You are going to need someone to host your website, else you are never going to have anyone ever find it, because it won't exist. You can argue that using sites such as Medium or Blogger could be used to host your articles and content, but in reality, you don't really own that content, if they decide to ban your account or remove your stuff, you have zero legs to stand on. 

So for me, I would rather have a host and a site that I own and my content is housed on it.

How To Get A Free Domain And Cheap Hosting

I will be honest, it's no secret that most host providers will give you a free domain name as part of the hosting purchase, which means you can usually save around $15 or so, but it does make life a lot easier keeping everything in one place. 

For example you can use the below widget to find a domain name that works for you and then be able to get hosting set up as part of that process. 

As part of that deal you also get their hosting for about $4 per month, so about half the price of most other hosts. 

It's always worth shopping around finding the best host that works for you, just because a host is cheap, or doesn't always mean it's the best, which brings me onto my next point.

Other Host Providers

Personally, I prefer to use hosts such has Siteground, as they are easier to work with longer term and allow you to make the sites faster, utilising Cloudflare or Content Distribution Networks. 

A host such as SiteGround will cost more, with their initial hosting costing around £11 per month, which is double the price of Bluehost, but it's so much easier to use and set up, for me it's worth the extra cost.

How To Get Free Hosting

Wealthy Affiliate have now updated their pricing and what they offer with their free account, as such it is no longer possible to grab the 2 free hosting accounts. Ugh, thanks WA!

If you are someone who doesn't have much spare cash and wants to get this new blog up and running as quickly as possible, I hear you. Most hosts will want 12 months in advance, so could potentially cost you $100 - $200 straight away, which might seem like a big chunk of change for many. 

But, there is a way to get free hosting, you will still need to buy a domain name, though that should only cost you around $5 - $10 for a year, possibly 2 if you are lucky.

Once you have your domain name, you will want to head on over to Wealthy Affiliate. They are an affiliate marketing platform that teaches people how to make money from websites, but they also offer free hosting for their free members. 

That means you can host 2 websites, for free, without having to pay a penny.

Getting Your Site Set Up

Whatever host you decide to use, the end goal will be the same, getting WordPress set up. WordPress is a highly versatile website builder, allowing you to create a blog, shop or pretty much whatever you want to set up.

Any host worth their salt will install WordPress for you, which means as soon as you sign into your hosting account or when you set it up, they will send you details on how to get into WordPress. 

Plugins

Once the site is set up, it's time to get a few plugins (essentially widgets or tools that will make life easier). Myself and Sam usually tell those who do the 5 day blog builder to focus on about 6 or so plugins and that should be all you need.

These plugins will keep your site secure, keep it quick and also help you when it comes to ranking your website in search engines. I recommend grabbing the following;

  • AntiSpam Bee
  • Rank Math / Yoast  
  • Thirsty Affiliate
  • Updraft
  • WP-Optimise
  • WP Super Cache
  • Security Fence
  • Smush
  • Google Analytics
  • Thrive Leads / Architect (Paid)

Once inside WordPress, go to Plugins (you will find it on the left hand navigation bar), then click ''Add New'. You can then search for the plugins
you want to install.

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Once you find them, click Install, wait for it to install and then click activate.

Some plugins may take you through a quick user guide or set up process, some simply require activation to work. I would recommend going through the free 5 day blog builder, as the videos do show how to do this more in-depth, and it's definitely a difficult one to try and show via a blog article.  

Themes

A theme is simply a skin on a website, it controls the look and feel, potentially adding some, small additional functionality such as different home layouts or their own widgets. 

For the majority of sites, a free theme is more than capable of earning you money, and to this day all my sites run free themes. I don't see much point in complicating how sites look, so if I can keep them looking fresh and clean, I will. 

To find a new theme, you need to head on over to 'Appearance' (like in the image above), and click on Theme.

From there you will see the option to upload or go searching, I always go for a search. For me, I use either Astra or Generate Press. Both are free, clean and easy to manage and can easily be improved upon with a page builder or left as is if you so wish. 

Branding

This usually comes as a surprise when I tell people, but you should always look at branding your site, even if it is an Amazon niche site, having a brand too it, even if it's a decent looking logo, it still gives people an idea and a image to think about as they read your content. 

You will be surprised the number of visitors who keep coming back to read your content or remember your blog/website. 

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Getting a logo doesn't have to be super expensive, some of the best websites I own I have either paid someone on Fiverr to create it, or I used Canva. The beauty of Canva is that it actually has pre-done logos for you, you can just swap out an image or the text and boom, you have a logo that stands out a little. 

How To Start Making Money With Your Blog

There is a variety of ways to make money from blogging, but it won't be much of a surprise that I prefer to use Affiliate Marketing to make money from my blogs, rather than just plastering ads across the site, or trying to make money through trying to include an eCommerce/print on demand store added too it (yep, did that in the past). 

You can of course do a multi stage attack on your website, for example;

  • Sell Services. If you have a blog about a particular niche, find services that can compliment such as consulations or training services.
  • Sell your own products. For those with more experience or knowledge can create courses, eBooks or products.  
  • Advertising. Using services such as AdSense, you can display ads across your site relevant to your niche. You are paid per click. You do need a decent amount of traffic to start seeing any real money.
  • Sponsored Content. Brands are always looking for bloggers and reviewers to write articles about their products.
  • Sponsored Banner Ads. A mixture of Advertising and Sponsored Content. You can negotiate prices for ad space on your site. 
  • Email Marketing / Funnels. Capturing emails, in exchange for free books, courses or simply as a way of sending newsletters can be highly profitable.
  • Affiliate Marketing. One of the most lucrative and popular methods, especially for bloggers. The ability to recommend and link to products via affiliate links opens a world of possibility. Still my #1 income source.

Again, I prefer to run affiliate programs with the blogs, the niche sites utilise Amazon or simply using affiliate programs within the niche. You can usually get a much better income from running affiliate programs, plus you can usually get a ton of inspiration for it.  

Pay-outs from promoting affiliate products will be usually higher than pure ads, and easier to sell or market than pure consultancy services or sponsored content. 

How To Find An Affiliate Program

There is one easy, and possibly quite obvious route to finding that program is;

  • Head o over to Google and search phrases such as "[Your niche name] affiliate program".
    • E.g "Golf affiliate program"
  • Use a site such as OfferVault.com 
  • Search for products on sites such as Amazon Search sites such as ClickBank, ShareASale or sites that are relevant to your chosen niche (there are a lot of marketplaces)

Another thing you can do is to use resources such as Spencer Machams free Affiliate Annihilation Training. It gives some amazing ideas and tips on how to find and use Affiliate programs. 

Affiliate commissions can range from 1% - 100%, it really can be a strange and varied, and it really depends on the niche and programs available. 

How Much Can A Blog Make?

I try not to dive into philosophical questions, because in reality a blog could make $0 or could make you millions, it really depends on the niche, the content and how much effort goes into growing that site.

Don't worry too much abut the earning potential of a site, as soon as that happens people stop trying to grow a site and give up. 

Writing Your First Article

It's time to start with the gravy train, the actual bread and butter of any website, the articles. 

Being honest, it doesn't matter the kind of article you write, as it's all about practising and getting better. When starting a new site, depending on what I am trying to create, I will usually find a product that is relevant to the niche I have chosen and get to know it and then focus an article (usually a review) around that product.

For example, if I am was creating a new site about Golf Clubs, I would check on Amazon or a Golf Club store and check out their top rated products. I like to pick 5 or 10 products to start with, especially as it means people will be searching and researching these products. 

It also means you don't have to get bogged down with doing keyword research for the first couple of articles and lets you fall into the swing of things. 

Review posts are also really high converting, because people are on the fence about buying and looking for that last bit of info.

How To Structure Your Article

Review articles are one of the easier articles styles to structure, allowing you to keep the overall start, middle and end the same across pretty much every product. 

The structure might change slightly depending on if you are doing a platform, service, course or physical product, but that's about the time only time it might differ. 

I like to structure my physical product reviews using this set up;

  • Start - Introduction or overview of the product being reviewed. May also include some background or story (especially if purchasing the items)
  • Middle - This is where I go over the different features or content. I will also look at saying the pro/con of each feature or area
  • End - No surprise, I focus on the conclusion and final verdicts. The majority of the call to actions to purchase the product will be found here as well

A lot of bloggers or content creators really over complicate this part, trying to throw it a lot of additional headers or keywords, that usually don't need it, or can be used as separate articles. 

A great example is the use of 'Product Alternatives', whereby you try to jimmy in a number of Product vs Product headers or something similar, usually this can be done in it's own article, as the amount of content is going to be at least 1,000 words, so trying to add that to a 2 - 3k word review instantly starts to make that article into a huge monster. 

The titles or headers you put into your articles will usually have a similar theme, because people are usually searching for quite similar things when people are looking for products, so the usual ones that should be used include

  • 'Product Features'
  • How Much Does Product Cost
  • Is Product Suitable For Audience
  • Product Pros / Product Cons
  • Can Product Do X Or Y

Using a tool such as UbberSuggest or AnswerThePublic will help with what Keywords or Headers should be used, and will give you additional ideas. Both tools can also be used for additional article ideas, as mentioned above, don't try to put everything into a single review. 

Check out this article for an example of a review article.

Ensure You Answer Questions & Add Value

Every single article you create, should be designed to help answer a question that a reader  is searching for. A good example is the review article, it should be answering a number of questions, and giving that information to them in an easy to read format. 

Each header will again answer those questions, such as pricing, features or pros and cons. 

If you are not answering specific answers, then you should be looking at providing value, for example an article on the 'Top 5 Tips To Win At Golf' or 'The Best Way To Get Better At Swinging Golf Clubs'.

The best part about these types of articles is that they are easily shareable and can help your website rank for these keywords. 

Creating A Social Presence

After you have your first few articles up, it's time to start telling the world about your new website. One great place to start is by joining my Facebook Group and asking for feedback, I love seeing new websites and helping people to grow their blogs.

One of the ranking factors that search engines use is an element called 'Social Signals', they are meant to be used to notify Google or Bing etc that someone has shared or 'spoken' about your website and it is taken into account when it comes to deciding how relevant your website or article is. 

One great way to get these shares and signals, is to have your own social accounts that you can share these articles on, including Facebook Pages, YouTube and Pinterest. Having these accounts set up also means it's easier for people to re-share your content. 

I would create an account for the following sites;

  • Facebook Group & Facebook Page
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • YouTube (You can use Vidnami to create videos based on your articles)

Sharing your website on each of these sites, now means you are creating yourself a mini footprint. You can always be cheeky and ask friends or family to re-share a post or two, or even as the group.

Next Steps

You have created your first few articles, shared a few of them on your social media accounts, and possibly even got a few additional shares from others. It's now time to take the next steps and grow your new website. 

When growing a new site, as with my 'first article' I like to look at the top 5 - 10 products on whatever affiliate network I have chosen again for my chosen niche. It instantly gives you at least 10 articles to write reviews for, and allows for a nice decent headstart. 

If you are using Amazon, then I usually target the first 3 pages of Amazon and then I like to hit the worst reviewed ones or the 'worst selling' products in that niche category as well. Again, doing this starts to build up a large backlog of articles and keywords you can target. 

You can also mix in a number of Top 5 or Top 10's as part of those first few articles, again giving you starting articles to get going. On top of those articles you can use sites such as UbberSuggest or AnswerThePublic using your niche word as your starting point. 

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AnswerThePublic will provide you with a number of additional long tail keywords and variations that you can start to dive into. I like to then use the long tail keywords or variations as my next baseline for searches. 

For example, if I search for 'Golf Clubs' and I get given a long tail keyword of 'Golf Clubs For Kids', I can then use 'Golf Clubs For Kids' as my new search, this may then provide me with 'Best Golf Clubs For Kids Under 18' or 'Best Golf Clubs For Left Hand Kids'.  You can really dive into a rabbit hole with these tools, without having to purchase anything. 

Taking The 5 Day Course

If you are serious about starting your new website, I would recommend going through the 5 day blog builder bootcamp, somethings are so much easier to be shown via video. Plus you can also get access to a few bonuses to help you create your new profitable 2021 blog.

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