Affiliate Marketing for Beginners In 2021: An Ultimate Guide

by Naomi Jul 07, 2021

Coming together for affiliate marketing programs is the new trend for brands as well as marketers looking for a source to generate good income. 
Affiliates can use their existing social media traffic and brands only have to pay when sales occur, which makes it a win-win for both parties. 
Around 81% of businesses opt for affiliate programs to increase their conversions. 
To not get stuck with minimal clicks and conversion, you need the right set of ideas and research about what’s going to work. 

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In this affiliate marketing guide for beginners 2021, we will cover every important aspect of making real money.

What Exactly Is Affiliate Marketing?  

Affiliate marketing refers to promoting another brand’s products or services, wherein the affiliate earns a commission on every sale.  
Most affiliate marketers go for products they love using and make a hefty commission from the same.  
A case study by Awin, a global affiliate marketing network,  shows how Myprotein led to a 35% average increase in traffic and sales by integrating social activity and affiliate strategy. 

The Parties Involved in a Typical Affiliate Program  

  • Product creators who manufacture and sell the product 
  • An affiliate marketer who is looking forward to promoting the product 
  • The consumer who wants to purchase the product. 


Start Affiliate Marketing For Beginners

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Reasons To Get into Affiliate Marketing 

  • Affiliate marketers — especially those who are into high-end affiliate marketing— get to work from wherever they want and live the life of a true digital explorer.  
  • It’s one of the cheapest businesses you can start without a massive investment — that’s why some try to learn how to start affiliate marketing with no money 
  • No complex processes to learn — you can learn it in a couple of weeks, even if you are just a beginner to affiliate marketing. Mastering it, however, is a whole different game. 
  • Avoid the hassle of thinking about manufacturing a product or creating a service — some of the best affiliate marketing programs are digital product-based, so there is virtually no limit to how many you could sell and earn commissions on. 
  • No need to have a college degree or years of experience to get started.  
  • Earn as much as you want by applying the right strategies. 

Reasons To Get Into Affiliate Marketing

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How To Start Affiliate Marketing for Beginners In 2021? 

In this affiliate marketing guide for beginners 2021, we will dive into the necessary details to help you, the affiliate marketing newbie, pick the right market and get started with the right affiliate marketing program.  
As discussed earlier, you need to promote a brand’s products or services as an affiliate.  
What product or service will you choose to promote?  
The most significant decision is to choose a profitable affiliate marketing niche.  
Having a niche is crucial as you cannot promote electronic items one day and fashion-related another. Furthermore, being an expert in a particular niche gives you credibility and develops trust amongst your audience. 
Even after being a part of a popular program like the Amazon affiliate marketing program, you need niche expertise to succeed.  
Never make the mistake of recommending two similar products. Instead, pick the best and put it in front of your target audience. 
Here is an affiliate marketing case study showing how Pat Flynn, the founder of Smart Passive Income, generated revenue of $315,000 in two years by promoting one product (ConvertKit).  
But how to choose an affiliate marketing niche?  
Here are a few steps in this affiliate marketing guide for beginners 2021 you can follow in coming across the right niche.   

How to Choose an Affiliate Marketing Niche That MAXIMIZES Profits 

To make some real income out of affiliate marketing, target a few specific things.  
Go for the niche that has ebooks, courses, or live events that you can promote. Then, you are more likely to get a 50% commission on every sale.  
You can easily make a high income even with fewer sales.  
Aim at making a high commission for every sale instead of spending time making higher sales to make minimal income

20 Affiliate Categories

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Nerdwallet is one of the most successful affiliate marketing websites in the consumer finance market. It creates valuable content to help its audience pick the best credit cards, insurance, loans, etc.  
This website is entirely focused on earning through affiliate marketing. Therefore, you will come across zero ads or product promotions.

pick the best credit cards, insurance, loans

best credit cards

This website keeps updating its existing content to offer maximum value to the users. 
This Is Why I Am Broke, or TIWIAB, is a perfect example of an affiliate website that provides informative and entertaining content to users.

affiliate website that provides informative and entertaining content

This is an ideal Amazon affiliate marketing site with the entire focus diverted towards the audience rather than brands. Instead of long boring descriptions or reviews, they use humor to capture attention and increase retention. 

Be an Affiliate for Something You LOVE Doing 

Once you pick an affiliate niche, you need to spend a good time researching, writing, and marketing. You cannot possibly devote long hours to something which doesn’t interest you. 
Choosing a niche you are familiar with is crucial to completing the tasks without procrastination.  
Unlike jobs, no one is forcing you to work on your affiliate marketing business.  
Picking a niche, you love researching and writing about will keep you motivated and excited. 
Procrastination only leads to less work, less traffic, and hardly any sales. Instead, think about the things you love doing and then make a choice.  


Publisher revenue generation ranking

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Let’s say you are sincerely interested in the health and wellness niche. First, go through the top websites in the niche to analyze the problems they address. 
These are the real problems your target audience is facing. 
The product or service you are promoting should aim at eliminating those problems. 
Health and wellness niche can be narrowed down to exercise equipment, diet, and nutrition, skincare, etc. 
Find your area of interest and look out for products accordingly. 
Your aim should be to look after an area that has high demand and less supply. 
It is vital to have in-depth knowledge of the products you are promoting. 
Here is what  Aida Grigoryan, the content strategist at Incredo, says about having product knowledge:

“I think the most effective way to start performing better as an affiliate is to get to know the product from a brighter side. I don’t mean reading the product descriptions on the company’s website either exploring the whole technical documentation that is extremely complex. What I mean is to engage with the internal team via live conversation actively.”

Wait, Can I Turn My Love For Traveling Into A Business? 
It’s A Lovely Life is a family travel and lifestyle website that reportedly earned $100,000 in July and August 2019. 

Love For Traveling Into A Business

Your passion for things can quickly bring you closer to achieving your financial goals. 

How Many Products Should I Promote as an Affiliate?  

Most affiliate marketers promote between 1 to 10 products only. But as a newbie who is just searching for how to make money with affiliate marketing for beginners, you don’t have to promote 50 different products to make some real earning.  
Even if you promote one product, make sure you dive into its details before you start putting in thought in how to build an affiliate marketing program that’s perfect. Your audience should see you as an expert in your niche to try their hands on what you promote.

Selecting The Right Affiliate Program

Many popular websites have affiliate programs including, Amazon, Skillshare, Airbnb, ConvertKit, etc. 
Amazon affiliate marketing seems to be the top choice for beginners. 
To select the best affiliate program, keep the following things in mind: 

  • Before selecting an affiliate program, check the market reputation. Then, go through the reviews of the current and previous affiliates to see if it’s worth your time. 
  • The products should be in the niche you promote.
  • To make excellent revenue, go for an affiliate program with a high conversion rate. 
  • Avoid getting into programs focusing on products with high competition. 
  • All reputable affiliate programs have an efficient tracking system to keep a proper eye on all crucial metrics. 
  • The right affiliate programs focus on the affiliates’ needs, thereby providing free tools and resources to make the process smoother. 

Choosing The Most Suitable Platform for Affiliate Marketing

This section of our affiliate marketing guide for beginners 2021 will discuss the platforms that guarantee results.  
The most preferred platforms for affiliate marketing are a blog and YouTube channel, though some good marketers do go down the affiliate marketing using email stream.  
Starting a blog in 2021 is relatively easy and cost-effective. Make sure you focus on step-by-step guides.  
According to Kirby Wilkerson, digital marketing director at The Impact Kind,  

“The absolute best way to convert affiliate sales is to show how an item/service has worked for you or others in a step-by-step guide. When people can see results, it makes them believable and achievable. When it’s in the form of a step-by-step guide, people will refer back to your article when they have the time to make an informed decision.” 

Once you set up your blog, focus on creating quality content. Provide in-depth knowledge to your audience on a particular topic to build trust and credibility. Remember, you might across some leading affiliate marketers using email marketing to nail their profits. But don’t get too caught and start googling “how to use email marketing for affiliate marketing”, “affiliate email marketing for beginners”, or “affiliate email marketing tips”. 

These are the pros of this domain that you witnessed and they know how to fit a long blog worth thousands of words in a small email. 

As a beginner, stick with the blogs and YouTube unless you have built the right audience, otherwise doing nothing better than spamming other people’s mailboxes and getting blocked in return. 

Where should you position the links in your content? 

The positioning of affiliate links in your content plays a vital role. To see what works best for your blog, go for A/B testing. 
In the words of Neil Patel, Co-founder at Neil Patel Digital,  

“Take two different versions of an ad, landing page, or other marketing asset and see which one performs better for solid considering you’re using affiliate links; instead, you can use the links to see how they perform in various positions on the page. For example, links near the top of an article might be more visible, and therefore get more clicks.” 

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The next best option is starting a YouTube channel for free. If you are on a tight budget, this is a viable option. 
Did you know that 51% of marketers believe video content gives the best ROI? 
Create fun, engaging, and creative videos on your channel and include affiliate links in the description. 
Remember that people have a brief attention span. Your video should catch their interest from the get-go. To do this, you can create a super interactive beginning.
 video content gives the best ROI

Here is an example of a tech expert Dusty Porter who promotes products like Tubebuddy, Merch, etc. 
He makes his videos informative enough to develop trust amongst its viewers. 
Moving on to social media platforms, the craze of Instagram is skyrocketing. 
Do you know that 67.32% of affiliate marketers find their ideal customers on social media? (source:
Out of all trending social platforms, Instagram remains the top choice amongst affiliate marketers. 
Since Instagram doesn’t allow links in the caption or stories, you can add them in your bio. 
Take a look at the below example wherein @laura_emily_x promotes spicentice, selling authentic spices for enhanced flavor. 

trending social platform InstagramDon’t restrict yourself to blogs, YouTube channels, and social media for affiliate marketing. 
Emails will continue to remain the top-notch method of communication. 
Do not hesitate to take that path if you have a list of subscribers who are actually looking forward to hearing from you. 
People might ignore other forms of interaction, but they will definitely check their mail from time to time. 
While curating emails, make sure you focus on providing value to the reader instead of blindly promoting your product. 

Here is an example of a well-written affiliate marketing email that captures attention and leads to results. Sending emails at the perfect timing is essential to notice a boost in affiliate sales.

building a quality email list

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Invest an ample amount of time and effort towards building a quality email list
In the words of Duston McGroarty, a well-known affiliate marketing expert:
“A dollar spent towards building an email list will result in a much larger return on investment than a dollar spent promoting an affiliate offer directly.”

Building Strong Relationships Is the Key to Score in Affiliate Marketing 

Imagine a scenario wherein two different sellers are selling you the same product.  
Seller A focuses on convincing you to buy the product by all possible means.  
Seller B focuses on building a solid relationship considering your pain points and listening to your opinion, needs, and issues.  
Who would you pick?  
Undoubtedly, seller B drives more sales. However, if you solely focus on earning commission, your affiliate marketing business wouldn’t last long.  
Start by interacting with your current audience and strike a conversation at every chance you get. Do not start the conversation with 50% off on the XYZ product.  
According to Tim Soulo, the CMO at Ahrefs, “The most surefire way to sell something is to paint a picture in customers’ head where he is using your product and getting some results with it.” 
Every successful affiliate marketer advises on focusing on the pain instead of the product. Your product is the solution to the issues they are coming across. Unfortunately, most of them don’t know about the problems they are dealing with until you address them first.  
Do not keep your focus intact on maximizing traffic. Instead, work on bringing in a specific audience that’s willing to make a purchase.  

Simply Insurance is an affiliate website that successfully $50,000 per month with only 25,000 monthly visitors.  

How Much Money Can I Make Being An Affiliate Marketer?

Affiliate marketing expert Pat Flynn took his affiliate business from $8000 to $100,000. 
The earning potential in affiliate marketing is vast, but it demands patience. You can’t get frustrated after a few weeks of minimal or no results.
Furthermore, you need to change your strategy to focus on earning money rather than serving your audience solely. 
Here are the results of the poll conducted by STM Forum that focuses on the annual income of affiliate marketers. 

earning potential in affiliate marketing

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This chart clearly gives an idea that income through affiliate marketing varies a lot. But you can make a hefty income if you are willing to put in efforts and correct strategies into action. 
Finvsfin is a D2C product comparison and wellness reviews website reportedly earning $50,000 per month after functioning for just a year.


  1. Do I have to pay to join an affiliate program? 
    No, affiliate programs are mostly free to join and make sure you check reviews before joining one. 

  2. Can I find affiliate programs in the industry I prefer? 
    Yes, you can easily find affiliate programs in the industry you prefer. Almost all brands are targeting affiliate marketing to improve sales. 

  3. Does the brand have control over the content an affiliate publishes? 
    Affiliates have complete control over the general information, but some brands restrict them from sharing certain information. Go through the terms and conditions before signing in. 

  4. Do affiliates need to disclose their relationship with brands? 
    Yes, the Federal Trade Commission requires affiliates to disclose that they will receive compensation on every purchase. 
    Disclosing this information is crucial for using affiliate links on blogs, social media, or any other platform. 

  5. Do brands manage affiliate programs themselves? 
    It differs from brand to brand as some prefer doing it themselves while others are a part of a specific affiliate network.