Affiliate Marketing for Beginners: What to Know

Are you looking to earn money online? Consider how affiliate marketing works for beginners and if it’s right for you.

Affiliate marketing is super flexible and scalable. If you do it right, it could become your primary income stream.

Before we get into it, this post contains affiliate links, meaning I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you. Read my full disclosure policy to learn more.

What Is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing involves a brand and a publisher. The brand has a product or service to sell, and they work with the publisher who promotes the brand’s offer.

Whenever the publisher generates a sale for the brand, the publisher receives a commission. Some programs pay as low as 1%, but others can pay upwards of 50% in commissions.

To help keep track of these sales, the brand provides the publisher with a trackable link. That way, the sale can be traced back to the publisher.

Affiliate marketing is great for beginners due to the low barrier of entry. Almost anyone can get started with it, and it’s not as complex as some other online businesses.

Benefits of Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing can offer a lot of benefits to beginners and people with experience. Consider why you should give this online side hustle a try.

Super Flexible

One of my favorite things about affiliate marketing is how you can adapt it to meet your needs. You can work on your affiliate marketing stuff almost anywhere, as long as you have internet.

It also doesn’t matter when you work on it. If you have a day job, you could do affiliate marketing in the morning or late at night.

Now, you’ll need to work more upfront to get things going. But once you establish your affiliate marketing hustle, you can slow things down a bit and still earn money.

That makes it the perfect choice for busy working people, students, parents, and almost anyone else.

Scale Your Income

Some other online businesses may have you hit an income wall. This happened to me when I was earning most of my money as a freelance writer.

However, affiliate marketing is considered “passive” income. I disagree with it being passive because it still takes work.

But once you do the work, you can increase your income without working more. The larger your audience is, the more chances you’ll have to make money with affiliate links.

Works for Most Niches

Whether you want to promote pet supplies or crafting tools, you can use affiliate marketing. There’s at least one affiliate program out there for almost any topic.

I won’t say it works for every niche because there are probably some where it doesn’t. However, you can make it work with a variety of content topics.

And when you post about a topic you genuinely love, it can be easier to drive affiliate sales. You may enjoy the process, even before you start seeing an income from it.

Easy to Start

Making money from affiliate marketing isn’t easy. However, it is easy to set up some systems and plans to make money as an affiliate marketer.

You can set up a new social media account and start posting in minutes. If you want to go the route of a blog, that takes a little longer, but it still doesn’t take more than a day.

And if you implement the right strategies, you could earn your first commission within weeks. Compare that to other side hustles where it can be hard to get your first sale or client.

No Need to Create Products

Another thing that makes affiliate marketing perfect for beginners is that you don’t have to put in the time or money to develop a product. That’s already done for you.

Now, your main job is to promote the product to your audience. It’s the brand’s job to do the market research and create a product that will sell.

The brand is also in charge of writing a compelling sales page. Truly, all you need to do as an affiliate is post content that drives link clicks.

No Upfront Costs

If you don’t have a lot of money, you can also start affiliate marketing. While I recommend you only promote products you have experience with, you can still start for free.

Think of products you already have in your home, and promote those. As you start to earn money, you can invest it in your business and buy new products to promote.

You can start affiliate marketing on social media for no cost. Starting your own website will incur a bit of a cost for hosting and a domain, but that’s all you need to spend.

How to Start Affiliate Marketing for Beginners

You’re convinced that you have to give affiliate marketing a try. But you have no idea where to begin.

Don’t worry, here are my best tips to get started.

Choose the Right Niche

One of the most important things to think about is the niche. Having a niche can help you establish yourself as an expert, and it can determine your future success.

When I first started affiliate marketing, I did so in the music niche. Yes, that ticked a few boxes for things like my passions and my educational background.

However, I struggled for years to make any significant amount of money with it. Now, I’m going with the niche of blogging and online income, which is much more profitable.

Look for a balance between profit and passion. And be honest with yourself about the chances of making money, especially if you want to do so relatively quickly.

Find Affiliate Programs

The next step can be done after choosing a niche, but I would recommend doing them together. As you look at the different niches, search for relevant affiliate programs.

If you have a couple of niches in mind, look at some of the popular affiliate programs for each. Consider which programs pay better and which niche is a little broader.

Go with that one since you’ll have a higher chance of making money. After all, this is a business, so you need to be business-minded and be realistic about the profit potential.

Start applying to a few of the programs that don’t require an audience. If the programs do require that, get your website and social accounts set up first.

Decide on Platforms

One of the things that can make or break affiliate marketing for beginners is where you share your links. I’d recommend choosing two platforms to start.

Make one of them a long-term, more SEO-friendly platform. That could be a blog, YouTube channel, or podcast.

The other platform should be a short-form platform that moves quickly.

Your short-form platform can help you build momentum a little sooner. Meanwhile, the SEO platform can help you turn affiliate marketing into a more passive venture down the line.

Always Disclose Affiliate Links

No matter where you choose to share your affiliate links, ALWAYS include a disclaimer. This is an FTC rule for any creator in the US or anyone with followers in the US.

Depending on the platform, you may be able to use #ad or #afflink. But on a website, it’s good to have a privacy policy page with a longer disclaimer that you can link to.

Either way, make it very clear to your audience that you’re using an affiliate link. That way, you won’t break their trust or risk legal action.

Be Consistent and Persistent

I’d love to say you could post an affiliate link and make your first commission in minutes. Sadly, it can take time before you make money from it.

That means you need to be both consistent and persistent. To be consistent, publish new posts at least a few times a week, if not daily, especially on short-form platforms.

You also need to be persistent and not give up after a week if you don’t see results. It’s very rare to make money that quickly.

Give yourself a few months to a year to start making money.

Always Test New Things

Another vital part of making money with affiliate marketing is being strategic. For this reason, don’t be afraid to test different things in your business.

Test different forms of content, posting times, or other differentials. Look at your analytics to see what works the best for you and your accounts.

Stay on top of algorithm updates changes in your specific industry. That way, you can increase your chances of making money.

How to Find Affiliate Programs

The easiest way to find affiliate programs is to search Google for “[your niche] affiliate programs” or a similar keyword. You may find articles listing relevant programs or links to individual programs.

If there’s a specific product you want to promote, search for that product and “affiliate program.”

You can also contact the creator or brand directly. This is particularly useful if you want to promote an online course or something similar.

How to Choose Affiliate Programs

Once you find some affiliate programs, it’s time to decide which to apply to. You can apply to a bunch of programs, but it doesn’t hurt to start slowly.

Either way, keep the following in mind when deciding whether an affiliate program is worth it.

Start With a Few Programs

If you’re new to affiliate marketing, don’t overwhelm yourself. Start with one or two or maybe even three affiliate programs.

Consider which programs allow you to promote the largest variety of products or which offer the highest payouts.

Then, you can focus on those programs to kickstart your affiliate marketing business. As you start to understand how everything works, you can join new programs.

Consider the Brand Reputation

When you become an affiliate, you’re aligning yourself with a brand. It helps to stat with brands that have a well-known, good reputation.

This is one of the reasons why Amazon Associates is so popular. Almost everyone shops on Amazon or knows someone who does.

Meanwhile, you should avoid brands with sketchy reputations. Promoting them could keep you from building trust with your audience.

Review the Commission Structure

Another thing to keep in mind is how affiliate commissions work. Using Amazon as an example again, it offers relatively low commissions at 1% to 10%.

If you want to work with a smaller brand or a lesser-known company, consider whether they can offer a higher commission per sale. Some affiliate programs pay 30% to 50% or even more.

You should also consider whether you could earn recurring commissions. This is a common option for affiliate programs for subscriptions and software.

Look for What You’ve Used

As a beginner, you may want to stick with products you’ve used. That way, you’ll know the things you’re promoting actually work and are of good quality.

You can search for products or brands you love and whether they offer affiliate programs. Join those programs to get your trackable link.

If possible, try new products before you promote them. Or at the very least, research them in depth to learn what others have to say.

Where to Promote Affiliate Links

You have your affiliate links in hand, and you’re ready to make money. Now, you need to figure out where to share your links.

Your Website

The best place to share your affiliate links is on your own website. You can set up a basic WordPress website using SiteGround as your host.

Create a resources page and use it to link to your various affiliate products. A website is also a great place to set up a blog and promote products with reviews and comparisons.

You can set up a website for as little as $50 for the first year. Ideally, you’d be earning enough to cover the renewal fee after the first 12 months.


Another one of the best places to share affiliate links is on Pinterest. It’s part social media, part search engine.

And it’s the one social network that encourages users to click on your website or other links. That makes it a lot easier to drive traffic and sales as an affiliate marketer.

You can publish graphics, photos, and videos, and you can add a link to each post.

Just make sure you use your affiliate disclosure. And avoid sharing the same link too many times, or Pinterest may flag your account as spam.


If you have a good following on Instagram, you can use it for affiliate marketing. You can share links in your bio, stories, and DMs.

Of course, you have to get people to those places to get a clickable link. But if you can build a community and encourage those story views or DMs, you could earn money.

Make sure you keep up with the Instagram algorithm. Adjust your content strategy as needed so that you can get website clicks and earn your commissions.

Consider enrolling in a course like The Instagram Marketing & Sales Academy to learn how to make money on the platform.


I’ve just gotten into TikTok, and I’m still learning how it works. But the platform can be a great way to make money from affiliate marketing.

Yes, you can share a link in your bio and direct people there. However, from what I’ve seen, TikTok Shop is a much better option.

Once you reach 5,000 followers, you can apply to become a TikTok Shop Creator. Then, you’ll be able to promote brands that sell on TikTok.


Maybe you’re more interested in creating longer videos. YouTube can be a great place to add affiliate links and get sales.

Whenever you upload a video, add affiliate links to your description with your affiliate disclaimer. Then, mention those links in the actual video.

People can go to the description to find what you’re wearing or the products you love. If they click and make a purchase, you’ll get a commission.

Final Thoughts

Affiliate marketing for beginners may sound overwhelming. While it’s far from a get-rich-quick scheme, it can be a legit way to make a decent income online.

To help you get started, sign up for a free five-day email course all about affiliate marketing.

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