What is affiliate marketing? And how to get started with affiliate marketing? Affiliate marketing is a very powerful lever to earn consistent, growing residual income.

In terms of levers (as far as we define it here on Levered Income), affiliate marketing is a very powerful lever for earning residual income over a long period of time. Affiliate marketing’s lever has a compounding effect on your time, meaning that work you have done in the past continues to earn for you in the future. Let’s dive into what is affiliate marketing and how to get started earning more money.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate Marketing is primarily lead generation. As an affiliate of a company, you are actually acting as an outside sales force, bringing sales leads to the company you are affiliated with, and ultimately converting these sales leads into customers. You typically receive compensation from these affiliated companies when these sales leads purchase a service or product from your affiliated company.

Although affiliate marketing is primarily considered an “online” business, it actually started “off-line” in the form of referral agreements between businesses or service providers. A simple example of a service provider referral fee would be a CPA recommending an attorney, and then receiving a “referral fee” for the referral.

In the online world (our focus here on Levered Income), affiliate marketing is primarily done via an online portal with an audience (blog, website, social media account), referring via website “links” to a company that pays you a commission for purchases your audience makes from the company you are affiliated with. Here is a simple graphic of the process:

Learn how Affiliate Marketing Works

Your Audience

Notice how often I use the word “audience” in the above paragraph. Your audience is absolutely critical to your success. It doesn’t matter if you are a business, a performance group, or a social media influencer – your audience is your customer and vice versa.

As an entertainment producer of live entertainment productions, I am obsessed with audience response. It is an instant gauge of whether or not your show is being enjoyed by your audience (i.e. do they clap or not?). If they don’t clap or have some intended emotional reaction, you have lost your audience (and in that case no one will buy tickets, and you will be out of business shortly).

To acquire and keep an audience, you need to give them something of value. You need to inspire them, to motivate them, to dazzle them. When I produce a show, I focus on knowing my audience first and then building a show that tells the story I want to tell to them. I am always drawn back to a branding video I made for one of my entertainment companies a few years back:

Helping People

Successful affiliate marketing is more than trying just trying to “sell” someone or to generate link “clicks” and hope someone buys something. It is about adding value and helping people. You have to believe that the information or experience you are sharing with your audience actually helps them. You should only affiliate your brand with companies you trust and products you believe in.

The concept of a business actually “helping people” is simple, but I think this “helping people” portion is where most businesses go wrong. Apple Computer (actually just “Apple” now) was built on simplifying the barriers between you and your imagination. Successful businesses are formed to fill a “need”, so make sure that whatever you choose to do (whether it be letting people know the best diapers for sensitive skin, the best cat litter, or the best exercise ball), your goal is to help someone.

If you believe – truly believe – that what you are doing is helping someone, you are energized every day. Money and success will follow.

What do I need to Get Started with Affiliate Marketing?

So, after a brief overview on what is affiliate marketing, now on to how to get started earning money with affiliate marketing. Here is an overview of what you will need to start your affiliate marketing business:

Training

The foundation of knowing what steps to take to successfully start your business. Training is an investment in yourself.

Domain Name

A domain name is your digital address on the internet. A domain name reflects your brand and is in fact your storefront on the internet. Check out Brandgy for more information on domains and branding. I use GoDaddy as the registrar for all of our domain names.

Web Hosting

Web hosting is where you actually build your website and host your files in the cloud for the world to access. It is actually the foundation that you build your website on top of that supports your storefront. Currently I use Namecheap for hosting small websites, Wealthy Affiliate for all of my affiliate websites, dedicated servers on Hostgator for larger websites and small web applications, and Amazon Web Services for large web applications and higher traffic websites.

Website

Your website can be considered the actual building that you construct on your digital real estate (Domain name) and digital foundation (Web Hosting).

Content

This is your “show”. It is what you build for your audience to enjoy, and to hear what you have to say.

Audience

These are your customers. Take care of them and they will take care of you.

Training is the Foundation of Success.

I have built quite a few different types of websites, ranging from blogs, e-commerce websites, web applications, SaaS solutions and service oriented websites. Even with all of my online business experience, I realized from the beginning that I needed to lever other experts’ years of experience in the specific area to succeed (this applies to everything I do). I am focused on creating multiple diversified income streams, and to achieve this, I need to get up and running as quickly as possible. I seek out the maximum way to leverage my time into the maximum return.

As an elite-level coach, I know the importance of training. I have spent years perfecting processes that molded performers into elite-level athletes and entertainers. I wanted to find a comprehensive training program that would take me step by step through the process of building a successful affiliate marketing business. The process of building a successful affiliate marketing business needed to be both repeatable and scalable. I am seeking to lever the power of an online business and affiliate marketing into something that will generate a consistent 6-figure income stream.

Cost does not equal quality. In general, I am a firm believer in the old adage “you get what you pay for”. Online businesses offer the business owner the ability to scale the size of the business for very little cost. A successful affiliate training program in my mind would have a lot of users and offer that training at a reasonable cost (since so many people are using it because it works – kind of a “chicken – egg” thing).

Online Businesses Tend to be Complex for No Good Reason

In general, like with everything technology oriented, complexity is layered on top of a simple concept (affiliate marketing) with no real return for the complexity, and a lot of time-wasting. In all of my research into what is affiliate marketing and how to get started, I came across the all-in-1 platform that I use today for my affiliate marketing websites, Wealthy Affiliate.

I first signed up Wealthy Affiliate because of the training (it is free for the first multi-video training courses). As I dove into the training, I was very impressed with the quality of the production value of the platform and training videos (yes I know the entertainment producer is coming out here) and the step by step nature of the affiliate marketing training process.

Everything in One Place

As I went through the free video training, I realized that Wealthy Affiliate is a complete platform for affiliate marketers, providing everything you need in ONE place with ONE login! I am a firm believer in simplicity (I wear jeans and a black t-shirt every day) and the ability to entirely control your business in one area is fantastic for me. From my one Wealthy Affiliate login I can:

  • Buy Domains
  • Host my Websites
  • Build my Websites
  • Monitor the Health of My Websites
  • Research Keywords
  • Write Website Content and Push it to my Affiliate Marketing Websites
  • Build my Audience

And most importantly – get the training needed to do all of the above to build a successful affiliate marketing business.

Typically, to do the same things, you need to have accounts at multiple service providers and I still need to do this for my other web applications and other online businesses. This is my old work flow before Wealthy Affiliate:

  • Log into my website hosting provider and create an account for the new website (I have reseller accounts with Namecheap, dedicated servers with Hostgator and also use Amazon Web Services for bigger applications).
  • Log into GoDaddy (my domain registrar) to update the name servers to point to the new website account I made in step 1. Note: I still use GoDaddy as I have hundreds of domain names registered there and have a work flow already established. The domain privacy automatically added with Wealthy Affiliate does make it a better deal than GoDaddy – even with my discount domain subscription with GoDaddy.
  • Log into cPanel on the web server and install WordPress. (I used WordPress whenever possible – it is free, easy to use and there is tons of online support).
  • Log into the WordPress admin area and install my WordPress theme of choice (I use Elegant Themes – they are paid themes, but I like the extra functionality, they have free training, great support, update their themes frequently (VERY IMPORTANT), a ton of themes to choose from and it saves me a lot of time. I have a developer license with them (very inexpensive and I have unlimited access to use all of the themes). You can check out Elegant Themes here.
  • Log into my keyword research platform and do keyword research about articles and content I am interested in creating.
  • Create content for the website (in this example just a written article).
  • Log into my stock photo account and buy licenses for images used in the article. (Wealthy affiliate has a library of free images for members.)
  • Log back into the WordPress website’s admin area and post the article.

This is just a quick overview and I left out a lot of other items such as updating MX records for mail servers in Google, adding Google analytics, etc etc. The point is the power of one login and focus on the task at hand. Even after doing this for many years, I still forget a step and have to go back and fix something. With one login, it simplifies everything for me and I can focus on my audience.

If you are just starting out in affiliate marketing or wanting to simplify your workflows, you can sign up Wealthy Affiliate for free HERE. You can take the training course, build and host two websites for free. I am frequently on the Wealthy Affiliate platform building out my affiliate websites, so feel free to drop me a line anytime if you have any questions getting started with Wealthy Affiliate.

I hope you enjoyed this article on what is affiliate marketing and how to get started. I welcome comments as long as they are constructive and help out the Levered Income audience.