You may agree that many of us have at one time or another thought about starting an online home business. Many have also searched for ways to build an online business. Some may have looked at affiliate marketing.
If you have spent any time at all online looking for a way to make money, no doubt you have seen what appears to be thousands of opportunities. Or you may have been ripped off as I have been. But we continue to look and dream of having our own business.
Notably, on days "gone" wrong. A bad day at work. Failure for promotion. You are getting laid off with no back-up plan and not having enough money to pay an unexpected bill — a desire to do something else. Just plain tired of your financial condition and are unhappy as a result.
There is good news!
But there is a catch.
Not many people are willing to put in the effort it takes to make money. And the sad thing is, most will not read this practical guide to making money online to the end.
Today, I am going to take you from dreaming about your affiliate marketing business, to creating a business, and to making money.
Affiliate Marketing Introduction
This practical guide describes all the steps and actions to create your own successful online business. The guide takes you through defining your goals, assessing your skill levels, identifying your passions, defining your audience, determining the things that help your audience, building your business, and, getting paid.
I will spend more time discussing the intangible aspects of an online business because too often they are overlooked in a rush to create an online business. I am talking about:
- Having the right mindset
- Creating goals
- Having a plan and budget, and
- Choosing the right endeavor
Step 1 - Understand the Basic Concepts
Understanding the basics of making money online will help you achieve success.
Among the following three main methods of making money online, I chose affiliate marketing (#3).
- Selling your products either physical or digital
- Selling services
- Selling someone else's products and services using content marketing (monetized website)
What is affiliate marketing?
A simple definition is:
Affiliate marketing is the process of earning a commission by promoting other people’s (or company’s) products. You find a product you like, promote it to others, and earn a piece of the profit for each sale that you make.
This business model is based on affiliate marketing focusing on the creation of a website and adding content (articles and posts) regularly to help a selected group of people solve problems.
Why affiliate marketing?
The following factors show why affiliate marketing is an excellent business to start online:
- Easy to start
- Low cost
- Few skills required - lots of affiliate training available
- Back office support - affiliate networks and companies provide administrative, tax reporting, etc
- A large variety of products and services available for affiliate marketers
Read more about how to make money with affiliate marketing by clicking here.
Why online businesses are not for everyone
Some factors impede people's success with online activities. The elements are:
- Unrealistic expectations including lack patience and persistence to work through challenges and difficulties
- Difficulties in creating their websites (even though millions of people have done it)
- Not understanding the amount of time required to write or develop content
- Problems writing quality content
- Getting sufficient website visitors to be profitable
Critical elements to making money
There are four core elements to making money online. They are:
- Product/service – Your options are either make and sell your products or sell someone else’s products. Ideally, they will be those for which you have a passion or high interest. For example, you can turn a favorite hobby into a business.
- Plan – Having financial and non-financial goals is vital to profitability. We express financial goals can in terms of total income monthly, yearly or any other way. Non-financial goals could include numbers of customers, repeat customers, time spent and other purposes. Plans should address marketing and advertising, budgets, resources, and schedules.
- Target audience – Knowing the kind or group of people willing to buy your product/services is the third element to making money. Here is An introduction to marketing research can be found here.
- Website – Your business website is the heart of an online business. It is the foundation of your business and the connection between your target audience and the products you want to sell.
"Do not wait; the time will never be "just right." Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along." (Napolean Hill, "Think and Grow Rich")
Why Build an Online Business?
Part of succeeding online is understanding WHY you want to have an online business.
Click on the image to watch Tony Robbins TED Talk about why we do what we do.
"Remember, no more effort is required to aim high in life, to demand abundance and prosperity, than is required to accept misery and poverty." (Napolean Hill, Think and Grow Rich)
The One Simple Key to Succeeding with an Online Business
Provide value. Provide value by helping people solve problems.
Apple provides value to its customers. With the combination of the iPod, phone, and internet communicator, Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone to the public in 2007.
Online examples of providing value include Dollar Shave Club and Etsy. DSC is known for knowing their customers' needs and built a considerable brand from that knowledge. Etsy created a user experience that builds on their customer desire to explore, discover, and buy unique products (crafts).
When I was a salaried employee, performance awards, pay raises, etc. were dependent upon meeting organizational or strategic plans. Our strategic planning was based on delivering value to our customers. Was I contributing to the success of the organization? If I was not, was I or my job relevant?
Understanding Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Success requires that you know yourself and your capacities.
Your strengths are things you can build upon and propel yourself to more significant achievements. Conversely, your weaknesses can hold you back from being all you can be (to paraphrase the U.S. Army slogan). If you know your weaknesses, then you can do something to overcome them.
How many job interviewers have asked you to describe your weaknesses? Interviewers probably asked you in every interview you have done. It is a common enough question to see you answer a difficult question.
I was asked this question during an interview in the very last job I held. My response was that I had no weaknesses because I am old enough to know and fix any gaps I had.
As you will see further down the page, knowing your strengths is essential in the type of business you select.
But knowing what you are good at helps you achieve more quickly.
If you are unsure of what your strengths and weaknesses are, then try The RichardStep Strengths and Weaknesses Aptitude Test (RSWAT) online. It is a test a series of simple, straight to the point questions. It takes about fifteen minutes.
Having the Right Mindset
“The fastest how to make money online home business” you will ever see!
Another make money scam?
A major reason people fail to make money online is the lack of commitment to building a business.
They are not committed. Consequently, the attitude is I will give it a try. Unfortunately, this is NOT a very successful attitude. Nike demonstrates the correct approach in their commercial, “Just do it.”
There is a massive difference between trying and doing.
Making money online takes time and effort. It is hard work. Therefore, without commitment, there is no effort.
In the make money online niche, there are lots of business opportunity promotions that target people interested in making money without commitment. The promoters focus on buzz words like “passive income” and the idea that they will do all the work for you.
The scammers are good at writing ad copy that induces the uncommitted to fall for the scams. They use power and emotional words to persuade people to join their programs with promises of making money with little or no effort. Or that there is no risk should they join. If this were true, everyone would be making money. Instead, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission stays busy shutting down scams.
Ask yourself, how long would your employer continue to pay you, if you put no effort into your job.
Many people have preconceived notions about online businesses. One thought is the personal experiences of family or friends having an online store. “My Aunt Mary tried it and failed. it must be a scam.”
People also think an online business is not a real business. After all, what kind of business is it that has a low cost of entry, little risk, or takes very little time? It cannot be real if there is no money at stake and nothing to lose.
But a real, traditional business has a physical location, employees, payrolls, rent, customers, and all the other trappings of a brick-and-mortar business. Right. Tell that to Jeff Bezos who started a small company in his garage. It is now called Amazon.
So how do you get the commitment?
How Do You Get the Right Mindset?
Success is all about having the right mindset and having a vision of the future. A desire to make a change in your personal life. Doing more than the same old thing day after day and not getting ahead. Living paycheck to paycheck is a sure thing to get you run over or passed by.
The following short video by Les Brown gives us a life lesson on perseverance.
Step 2 - Plan and Budget for Your Online Business
Planning and budgeting for your business is an often overlooked part of setting up a business.
If you have an idea of what sort of business you wish to have, you must set objectives or targets for that business. Without having a purpose or a destination, your business activities will be unfocused and random. It is like going on a vacation trip. If you don’t know where you’re going, your chances of getting there are not very good. Or you may end up in a less desirable destination.
Furthermore, as I have seen so many times, at the very first sign of troubles, people merely quit and decide to try something else. It seems as if their particular idea doesn’t work, but, in reality, they never gave it enough time to be successful.
Creating Online Business Goals
Setting goals for your online business is an integral part of developing a successful business plan. Consequently, it is essential to take the time to set goals that are measurable and directly under your control.
Most people tend to set goals based solely on results. These are often referred to as “static goals.” An example of a static goal is to make $1,000 a month in six months. The problem is that you have no control over the outcome. You could work hard to achieve your goal. But you could still fail because people did not respond in a predictable or timely manner.
Static goals are often more of a detriment than not setting goals at all because it can be very frustrating if you do not meet results-oriented goals.
The frustration could lead you to give up on your process which, given a little more time, would prove to be very beneficial. This type of situation is notably accurate if you are st getting started with your online business. You may want to make $1,000 a month, but the time frame may be unrealistic. As a result, you change strategies even though your original plan would have been sufficient given more time such as making $1,000 in ten months.
To set practical goals, you need to make them “dynamic.” Dynamic goals are internal, which means you are in control over whether or not you meet them. With complete control, it is easier to gauge how effectively you are achieving them. Additionally, you may evaluate your progress against your plans.
As an example, here is a quick look at a few dynamic goals that can be combined with a traditional static goal of increasing the number of customers.
One of the best ways to get people to visit your website is to have useful, up-to-date content. A dynamic goal would be to publish three valuable posts to your blog every week. This seems like a straightforward goal, but over several months, it can improve your website dramatically. Repeat visitors will see new, up-to-date content.
In summary, your business success is determined by setting goals. Setting goals are part of the planning process. The best goals are dynamic in being measurable and under your control. The number of compelling goals that you can create is limitless.
Creating Marketing Goals
Part of business planning includes establishing marketing goals. Marketing goals help you stay on track with your business goals and objectives. Marketing strategy guides marketers to organize, select, and achieve objectives with the most positive outcome.
Marketing goals are specific, measurable, realistic, and time-limited. According to CoSchedule research:
“Marketers who set goals are 376% more likely to report success than those who don’t. And 70% of those successful, goal-setting marketers achieve them.”
Creating a business budget
My original title of this guide was "Practical Guide for Starting Affiliate Marketing Business for Less than $100."
Yes, you can start for less than $100. Here is the budget:
Annual cost from Namecheap.com ($11 for domain name registration plus $3 for domain privacy).
Annual cost from Siteground.com (renewal price $144/year)
One time cost from vistaprint.com
Traffic Victory - short course on affiliate marketing from the Wolf of Online Marketing
1. Domain name: Namecheap is a great source to buy and register a domain name. Website Hosting companies frequently offer a free domain name for the first year as part of the hosting package. However, the annual renewal fee is often much higher than the annual renewal fee Namecheap charges.
2. Website hosting: Siteground is one of the top-rated website hosting companies known for their security and customer service. They are one of the companies I currently use. An alternative to Siteground is BlueHost, a popular hosting company I have used in the past.
3. Internet marketing training course: I recommend the Traffic Victory internet marketing course. I have watched all the training videos and then wrote a review of the course.
4. Business cards: Business cards with your website URL is a great way to promote your online business.
There can be additional expenses as your business grows. Should you want to build a subscriber list and use email marketing, then an email marketing service can be used. For budgeting purposes, consider $25 per month on average. Another option expense is for premium or advanced keyword research tools.
Our business model is based on content marketing and using search engines (Google, Bing, etc.) to get visitors to our website. Visitors who visit our website as a result of a search engine is called organic traffic (free). Other free traffic includes visitors from social media networks.
Step 3 - Choose Your Subject (topic or niche)
I consider this step the most important one.
Choosing the right niche for your business will save you time and reduce the likelihood of a false start or the need to start over. You will also be more likely to work through the inevitable challenges ahead instead of giving up.
Choosing an appropriate subject for your business is a two-part process. The first part is identifying what you like to do. And the second part is matching up your interests with potential businesses.
Listing Your Hobbies, Interests, and Passions (HIP)
The objective is to brainstorm as many things as possible and write them on a list without consciously ranking them. Once your list is complete, then the ranking begins.
Start by creating a list of things you are passionate about, your hobbies, special interests, things that “float your boat,” make you excited. Ask your spouse or significant other. Add skills, jobs that you liked, educational or professional achievements.
Once you have your list of ideas, rank them.
How to Find the Best Niche for You
Now that you have your HIP, it is time to find a profitable niche.
But first, let's define a niche.
A niche is simply a group of people. It is a group of people interested in something specific. But the group of people cannot be too big or too small. Much like the story of Goldilocks, the group needs to be just right.
Start with Simple Brainstorming
The best way to get started is to do a quick and easy brainstorming session. Now is not the time to sort through and analyze your home business niche possibilities – write them down randomly – we’ll weed out the ones that aren’t a good fit shortly.
Start by looking at things you already know you like. For instance, you might like:
- Playing a sport
- Making your jewelry
- Playing a musical instrument…etc.
All of those are potential niches based on what you know you already enjoy doing. Forget about whether or not you’re an expert – jot down current passions.
Next, consider what you’ve always wanted to learn but don’t know.
- You’ve always wanted to learn better photography
- You’ve ever wished you knew how to crochet
- You find yourself drawn to the idea of living a sustainable lifestyle
All of those “I wish I knew” topics are potential niche ideas for you.
Sometimes, you can build a profitable niche based off of experiences you’ve had in life, such as:
- Surviving a troubled relationship
- Enduring a personal crisis
- Flipping a real estate property for a profit
Or, maybe you know someone else who is going through something – it doesn’t have to be directly related to you. For example, you have a good friend who can’t figure out how to meet the right woman, or a sibling of yours suffers from panic and anxiety attacks
There are niches all around you. Once you start training yourself to look for them, you begin to see a world full of possibilities. A simple question to ask yourself is “what problems do people have?”
Don’t worry about not having expertise. Some of the best blogs and leaders are those who track their journey from the very beginning. Here’s why this can work so well. Sometimes, for an audience, it can be intimidating learning from an expert. It feels safer and more relaxed to learn from someone who knows what you’re going through and who can empathize with you quickly.
And if you’re worried about competition, don’t be. When it comes to the web, there’s no such thing as saturation. That’s because of people like reading about things they want or learning new things they like! You have a unique style and personality that stands out from others. When people learn and search for solutions, they typically look in several places, not just one.
Research Thriving Niche Markets
Another way you can come up with profitable niche ideas is to see what’s being discussed in the media and on social networks. The media exposure shows the research is complete, just waiting for you to discover it.
Magazine covers in grocery store checkout lines can show you a wealth of information. So for example – if you glanced at an issue of Woman’s World, you would see the following topics covered:
- Food for Alzheimer’s prevention
- Inflammation and weight gain
- Juicing for pain
- High blood pressure
- Anti-aging tea
- Body makeovers
Those are a lot of niches that yes, are very narrow in some ways – such as food for Alzheimer’s – but it’s a sign that people are into natural health, and you can be, too. Instead of getting so specific as “juicing for pain” you could jot down “pain relief” or “holistic healing” as your niche.
News sites also provide a current account of what’s followed. Look at your favorite news and information sites and look at what we can find on there.
Online affiliate networking marketplaces can give you some insight into what sells well with consumers. You can look at top sites like Amazon.com to pinpoint some possible niches.
Let’s look at Amazon.
Amazon.com is a great place to research both tangible and digital niche markets for affiliate marketing. You can go to http://www.amazon.com/bestsellers and look through each category to see what’s selling.
You can also look at hot new releases, top-rated, movers and shakers and most desired. These lists are updated hourly, so they’re as current as you can get, which will serve you well.
Click on a category, and you can drill down further. Click on Books, for example, and you can look in self-help. You can see that people want to know about:
- Being an introvert
- Marriage help
- Success tips
After you do a quick brainstorm and some fundamental research, you might have a great, long list or a short one of about five niche markets you could select.
Next, it’s time to cut more from your list. Don’t be hesitant about deleting niches. They’re always there if you ever want to branch out and add another income stream, but you have to start somewhere with one slot, so avoid combining them just because you don’t want to give one up – keep in mind that it’s only temporary.
A Word of Caution
I do not recommend the Make-Money-Online (MMO) niche for people starting. This niche is a critical mistake for affiliate marketers.
It is a highly competitive niche with expert marketers and, unfortunately, scammers. Scammers are looking for people desperate to make money online. They promote their scammy get-rich-quick programs where no work is involved (they do it for you) knowing that people don't do their due diligence.
Eliminate the Wrong Niches
Picking the right niche isn’t something you do in 10 minutes or a hurry. I spent hours and hours. It’s a process that you give time to if you’re serious about building a highly profitable business.
Let’s look at some reasons which you would want to weed out a niche. Go through each niche idea you have and see if any of these reasons exist.
You can’t commit to writing, talking and leading the niche day after day. Many newbies hear instructions about keyword volume and price points of available products to promote, so they pick a random niche they have zero interest in.
Imagine you’re a man who loves golf, but you pick the crochet niche because some guru pointed out something about keyword volume and product availability.
It happens and the poor golf lover not only doesn’t know about crocheting, but he can’t imagine writing about it every day. Choosing the wrong niche is a recipe for failure.
I love to play golf. So I chose golf as my niche. I built a website golftipsandtricks.com. Then I quickly learned that I enjoyed playing golf more than writing about it. So I closed the site.
Another reason is that there’s not enough profit opportunity. You want to investigate this. Ideally, you’ll pick a niche that provides both tangible and digital items you can promote (or create).
Examples of this are:
Weight loss – not only can you promote the diet and exercise digital plans, but also food and weight scales, workout equipment, supplements, and more.
Stress relief – not only can you promote digital eBooks on how to combat stress, but you can sell products like aromatherapy machines and home spa products.
One more reason why you may want to cut a niche is if it’s overly trendy. Sometimes something is such a fad that it’s a waste of time trying to build an entire business around it.
It’s much better to have an evergreen topic, like stress, than it is to build a whole site around a trend, like rubber band bracelets.
If it’s too broad, you can either eliminate it or narrow it down and see what all you can come up with for it. For example, just tackling the “diet niche” can be overwhelming.
But you might want to build a site about:
- Permanent, natural weight loss
- Dieting post pregnancy
- Dieting for people with diabetes …etc.
Once you whittle down the niches and feel confident that you could write about or lead in this topic for the long-term and that it can create profits with products, you’ll need to make a firm commitment to one.
Compare What’s Left Over
This is where some of the traditional guru advice comes in handy. There will be times when your passion for two topics is equal, and both provide excellent opportunities for profits.
That’s when you turn to things like keyword search volume so that you can see how prevalent the topic is online. You want to use keyword tools to see what words and phrases people are using to find information in that niche, and how high the volume is.
You might be asking yourself, “What number am I looking for?” There is no set number. You can make a good income from volumes of 1,000 or 10,000. Should you go with a niche where there are only ten searches per month?
Probably not. You want to look at typical conversion rates – anywhere from 3-30% – and compare that to the price of what you’ll be selling.
So if you were promoting an average of $100 items on your site, where you earned 50% of the sale (or $50), and you saw a search volume of about 1,000 for the right good keyword phrase, then even at a low 3% rate, you could expect 30 sales per month @ $50 commission, which totals $1,500.
Is that a sure thing? Of course not! You have to have everything in place for proper conversion. Online businesses aren’t a “build it, and they will buy” scenario.
Reviews on Amazon can provide some insight into whether or not it’s a hot niche. It’s not just the bestseller’s list. You can look at products and tell to some degree. For example, if you start clicking on categories in Amazon, you might see something typical like coffeemakers with hundreds or thousands of reviews.
But keep clicking around, and you might stumble on a niche that you didn’t realize was that popular. Click through on “chef tools,” and you’ll see a comfort mat that has almost 1,000 reviews and sells for nearly $60.
So that might be a niche for you, if you like cooking – not the mat, but maybe “comfort in the kitchen – for people who love the art of cooking” and everything you promote could be digital products about cooking (including ones you create) and tangible items that make things easier.
Available domains will be a factor in your decision, but please take time to play around with synonyms and phrases before you cross a niche off because your first domain idea is gone.
For example, let’s say your niche will be a diet for diabetics. Look for other words for diet, such as food, nutrition, diet plans, eating, meals, etc. Diabetics can be used as diabetes, too.
So you begin mixing and matching. You might try:
- DietForDiabetics.com – available at auction for over $1k
- FoodForDiabetics.com – taken
- EatingForDiabetics.com – available for $69
- DietPlansForDiabetics.com – taken
- MealsForDiabetics.com – taken
Then go through and switch people with diabetes to diabetes and see what you get there. Or change words around:
- DiabeticMeals.com …etc.
Do as much as you can to see what’s available and then if necessary, wait a day or two to see if any other possibilities pop into your head, such as:
- DiabeticMealPlanner.com … and so on
If more than one of your niches meets all of the above criteria, then what do you do?
You ask yourself, “Which audience do I want to serve?”
That’s what online success is all about – rolling up your sleeves and being ready to help people – whether they’re looking for diet help, relationship tips, golf advice or health insight – they need solutions, and they’re relying on someone who cares to help them find it.
This simple requirement – where you feel empathy for your target audience and genuinely want to solve their problems – is where you develop a loyal fan base who will convert at the upper limit of typical conversion rates for you, instead of the bare minimum.
Remember that if you’re in a rush, you can easily choose the wrong niche, spend weeks or months trying to grow it, and still fail because it wasn’t right for you. It might be right for someone else – and this is why some people hit it big in a niche, and others try it and see zero success.
Another thing you might want to do if you’re still undecided is spending some time looking at your competition. But only do this if you are the type who won’t succumb to intimidation, thinking, “Oh there’s already someone much better than me out there.”
Always keep in mind that people want choices. That person you’re admiring might be a great joint venture partner for you one day. But your style and voice will be unique to you, and his or her non-audience will be thrilled to find your voice out on the Internet waiting to guide them.
Plus, think about how you learn. When you want to learn online marketing, do you only listen to just one person? Or do you visit a few blogs, read a few people’s responses on forums, and follow different people on social networks who inspire and educate you?
Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t pick the right niche the very first time. Even with the best research and intentions, sometimes we get into a slot and don’t feel it’s right for us.
If this starts happening, decide to cut your losses and try again. Remember what it was that you didn’t like about that niche and look for the opposite in your next one.
You have to maintain a delicate balance between abandoning niches at the drop of a hat just because you’re not making instant riches overnight, and wasting too much time chained to a niche that just isn’t going to work for you.
Step 4 - Build Your Website
There are three parts to building your affiliate marketing website. They are:
- Choosing a domain name
- Choosing a website hosting company to host your website
- Selecting a website Content Management System (CMS)
Choosing a domain name
Your domain name should be catchy, memorable, and applicable to your chosen niche.
Website and domain name tips:
- Pick a name that is easy to remember.
- Do not use numbers or hyphens because they are harder to remember.
- Use subject matter words like coffee in the example above. Niche or subject words are keywords since Keywords are the words people use when entering a search query in a search engine like Google.
- Avoid brand names or trademarks. Otherwise, the copyright holder will come after you.
- Use your name if available. It is easier to brand, to become known, and to expand to any subject as well as make a personal connection with readers.
To come up with domain names and blog titles, I occasionally use a blog name generator at Nameboy. Above all, it is easy to use, and it will return several pages of names.
If I were to write a blog about coffee, I would name my blog "Coffee with Glen," and the domain name could be coffeewithglen.com.
Note: A domain name like coffeewithglen.com is easy-to-spell website address so that people can find the website. An Internet Protocol (IP) address is the website address stated in numeric terms like 220.127.116.11. An IP address is a numeric address much like a house street address or Post Office Box number.
Choosing a website hosting company to host your website
This step can be troublesome for many because there are so many options available when it comes to selecting a website host provider. We have the choice of using free hosting and website builders or using paid services.
There are many online website builder platforms available. Some of the more popular include Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, GoDaddy GoCentral, and Ucraft to name a few. I used free service from Homestead years ago. Unfortunately, they have not kept up with the times as their templates are outdated. A friend of mine, who happened to be a contestant on the season 8 Masterchef TV reality show, uses Squarespace for his chef website.
I do not recommend using free hosting for the following reasons.
- Free hosts may not provide enough bandwidth, page loading speed, or storage space.
- Place advertising on your site.
- Have limited design options.
- Have a unique Content Management System that may prevent transferring the site to a new host.
How to choose a great website host
Setting up a web blog hosting site account is easy. Finding one not so much.
What steps should I take to select a web blog hosting company?
Web blog hosting is hugely competitive. So, most website hosting companies offer promotional prices to entice new customers. As a result, they offer low-cost initial terms with follow-on terms at the regular price. Also, conditions may vary from month to three or more years.
Website hosting company advertising material includes a lot of technical terminologies to describe the features they offer. It seems like it is all designed to impress you with what they are doing or convince you they are offering the best hosting.
Above all, selecting web blog hosting comes down to three things:
- Security - Until you have had a website hacked, you don't know how much trouble it causes. The Wordfence blog focuses on WordPress security issues and solutions. Security is my #1 concern with hosting.
- Speed - If your site does not load quickly, visitors won't stay around.
- Support - Most web blog hosting sites provide 24/7 support using a trouble ticket system. Likewise, the better ones offer telephone as well as live chat to help customers solve website issues.
Typical hosting features
When viewing web blog hosting services advertising, you will often see a variety of hosting plans. So, the plans will show some essential functions as well as extra or premium features.
For example, typical features include:
- Storage space for your files
- Bandwidth, which is a measure of your website internet connection speed. Uptime expressed in percentages. These days 99+% is typical.
- Technical support should be 24/7. Some include telephone and chat support.
- Multiple websites and domains
- Email accounts
- Backup (weekly or daily depending on the plan)
- File manager
Extra or premium features
Web blog hosting companies will provide additional or superior features for hosting plans depending on the plan level. Because of competition, blog hosting sites will adjust features included in basic packages.
Extra features include:
- SSL certificate which is extra website security to protect user personal information
- Advertising credits to Google or Bing search engines
- Additional, specialized software to run selected programs like eCommerce
- Free domain names for a year ($13 per year is typical, but renewal costs could be higher.)
- Additional storage space
- Money-back guarantee
Choosing the right website hosting for you can be summarized in 3 steps:
- Decide which features you want.
- Compare hosting plans offered by web hosting sites. I used a checklist to select SiteGround.
- Choose hosting.
Now that you have chosen a hosting plan, it is time to start building your website.
Choosing a website Content Management System (CMS)
CMS is software designed specifically for website content. It provides website authoring and administration tools that help users with little knowledge of web programming languages or coding create and manage their website content.
I use and recommend WordPress, the world's most popular CMS. I like it because it is easy to use, has lots of training available, and is fast.
Step 5 - How to Create Your Website Content
People use search engines to find information, directions, items on sale. In response, the search engine returns relevant content. Search engines, like Google, are answer machines.
How do the search engines know what content is relevant?
In general, they find, analyze, and rank the website information they find. When Google sees your website and its content, Google catalogs the data, analyzes your content to understand what your content is about, and stores the information for future retrieval. When a search engine receives a search request from someone, it looks within its database to retrieve the pages that most closely matches what the searcher wants to find.
As a website content developer, your focus should be on creating quality content that readers enjoy reading and help them solve the problems they have. In a nutshell, your content answers their question.
Hopefully, the niche you have chosen has profitable profits. I was frustrated by building a website that had limited products with enough demand to make it worthwhile. It is essential to pick the right niche products.
There are search engine optimization (SEO) techniques that help Google, for example, to index, analyze, and store information for future retrieval.
In this example, “gas grills clearance” is the keyword.
Experienced affiliate marketers know the secret of getting lots of visitors to their sites. Do you know what it is?
They create lots of content.
Google loves content!
So they create more posts and pages focusing on different keywords related to their niche. But they do not just focus on quantity! They focus on the keywords people are using to search.
How do I find these keywords? And how do you find the keywords?
I use a free keyword tool called Ubersuggest. It is simple because it does not get you lost by providing lots of extra information and data. Here is a screenshot of my search for “gas grills” keywords.
Looks like “gas grills on sale” is a popular topic. There is an average of 27,100 searches a month for this keyword. And only 44 websites are using that specific keyword.
Looking at the keyword list above shows an interesting fact. The term “gas grills clearance” is far more popular than “gas grill clearance.” It tells me people do not necessarily use proper grammar when using a search engine. What often happens is that people will add new words to their search term. In my example where I searched for “gas grills,” I would add a word like clearance or sale to the original search term.
As I said above, Google loves content!
And Google loves shareable content!
What kind of content is shareable?
- Content that helps people. (How to, where to, what is, when is, who is)
- Useful content. (How to BBQ in the dead of winter!)
- Emotional content (funny, sad, insightful, etc.), the kind that gets shared on social networks!
- Questionable content. Just look at all the recent political theater.
What should you do now?
Revisit your chosen website topic. Think about related subjects that you want to cover.
Step 6 - Get Visitors Willing to Buy
The following factors help you get more visitors to convert to buyers.
- Create a fast loading website
- Create engaging content for your readers
- Promote your content on social media used by your target audience
- Offer premium or upgraded content like ebooks, checklists, reports, etc
- Incorporate relevant images and enhanced images like infographics
- Post and engage members at related niche forums
- Create guest posts on other websites and blogs
There are alternatives to getting people to visit websites besides organic traffic from search engines. So far the discussion has focused on developing content. But, sometimes marketers have to go out and get traffic. Other methods include:
- Email advertising - including list building and safelists
- Mobile advertising - including text message ads and web pages
- Social media marketing - includes content marketing
- Online classified advertising - eBay and Craig's List, for example
- Display advertising - including pay-per-click
Step 7 - Monetize Your Website and Get Paid
My favorite definition of affiliate marketing is:
Affiliate marketing is the process of earning a commission by promoting other people’s (or company’s) products. You find a product you like, promote it to others, and receive a piece of the profit for each sale that you make.
Promoting a product does NOT mean selling!
Vendors for whom you promote their products have the sales pages and funnels set up. You do not need to duplicate their efforts.
Promotion means pre-selling.
Your website visitors gain trust and confidence in you through building a relationship with them. You, via your content, create an enjoyable user experience by giving them relevant, useful information they seek in solving their problems. The simplest way to find a product to promote as an affiliate marketer is to search Google. In the following example, I add my favorite product subject, "golf." By adding '+ affiliate program,' Google returns golf-related affiliate programs.
Another way to find products and services to promote is to check with one or more of the affiliate marketing networks. Networks are aggregators of retailers. In other words, the systems list hundreds and thousands of retailer affiliate programs. So in essence, the network acts as a middleman between the retailer and the affiliate. The advantage of using an affiliate network is it makes it easier to find retailers and products to market. Some more extensive systems, besides Amazon, include:
Note: In general, the affiliate networks prefer to approve established websites. This means having content and website visitors. They do not like websites that have little content or traffic.
Besides sharing affiliate links within your website content and promoting your content on social media, there are several other ways to monetize your website. Some include:
- adding ad network advertising such as Google Adsense
- adding affiliated vendor product banners to your website
Some experts recommend applying for affiliate programs and ad networks once you have 30 articles or posts on your website.
Affiliate Marketing Conclusion
Making money online with affiliate marketing is serious business, treat it seriously, and be professional.
Learning new skills takes time and practice. And recognize the fact that there is learning involved. The good news is that there is lots of information available for new business owners online.
People create successful affiliate marketing businesses every day.
The key to building a successful affiliate marketing business is merely having a vision of your future, showing a much-improved change. A change can be any positive change, for example, an improved lifestyle or more time with family. More time for family and friends, financial security, better housing, more time for community service and volunteering; it is all up to you.
As Steve Harvey says, “You have to make the jump.”
Instead of doing it yourself, joining a group of like-minded people interested in helping each other build affiliate marketing businesses is an option. In 2005, two entrepreneurs created Wealthy Affiliate for that purpose. It is an online training platform focused on affiliate marketing. It includes a member community for learning, creating, and building successful online businesses. Members network with fellow members and learn from thousands of experts. Learn more by clicking here.
If you have questions or comments about affiliate marketing, please fill out and submit the form below. I am looking forward to responding.