How to Start an Affiliate Marketing Business

By | September 28, 2021

How does working less and making more money sound? 

Pretty good, right? 

There are a few different ways in which you can make passive income, but one of the most popular today is via affiliate marketing. 

According to a study, affiliate marketing spending is set to reach $8.2 billion by 2022

That is not pocket change, so the affiliate marketing pie is something that you may want to get a piece of. 

However, before you can get your piece of that pie, you need to better understand affiliate marketing and how to build a successful business in this line of work. 

Affiliate marketing is a marketing tactic based on performance. It involves an advertiser/ company rewarding a person or website with a commission for each sale made via a collaboration. The website or person is referred to as the affiliate and only gets paid when their promotion of the product or service turns into a sale for the company. 

Oftentimes, there is someone who acts as a middleman between the affiliate and the advertiser, referred to as an affiliate network. And that’s where you come in. 

An affiliate network presents you with the opportunity to work with numerous different clients in their affiliate marketing endeavors and provides both the affiliates and the advertisers with an added layer of trust. 

As an affiliate marketing network, you manage the relationship between the two parties and keep the interests. To start a business like this, you need to have good relationships with both sides of the affiliate marketing program: the affiliate and the advertiser. 

If starting your own affiliate marketing business sounds intriguing to you, read on to find out the steps you need to take to get the ball rolling on this business opportunity.

The Easy Parts of Starting an Affiliate Marketing Business

The idea of making passive income (and potentially a lot of it) is exciting. 

Let’s first look at the easy parts of starting an affiliate marketing business so you can get excited about it, and then get down to business. 

Choosing your niche

Think about what your interests are, and where some of your current connections lie. 

This is an opportunity for you to get creative and see what niche you think your affiliate marketing business could thrive in. It could be finance, business, wellness, or anything else that you enjoy and feel you can excel in. 

Choosing your platform

You may find that for your affiliate marketing business, you want to work with affiliates and advertisers who promote only via social media. Or maybe those who only promote via YouTube. Or possibly those who promote via a blog. 

Or, you can do a mix. It is a good idea to understand which platforms you understand best and can navigate well for both sides of the affiliate marketing process. You also want to choose platforms that are relevant and will get you clients from both sides. 

One platform that has brought a lot of success for everyone involved in the affiliate marketing world is WordPress

Many affiliate marketers build audiences through blogs, and many blogs are built via WordPress. In fact, according to a study done, WordPress has about 60 million blogs

Now you can see why this platform is so important to understand. 

Though it may seem overwhelming at first, WordPress doesn’t have to be complicated and can help bring you a lot of money in a couple of different ways. 

One is that you can use WordPress to build your own company blog. And another is that you can use WordPress to understand your clients’ blogs.  

We will share more about WordPress below. 

The Difficult Parts of Starting an Affiliate Marketing Business

If only all the parts of starting an affiliate marketing business were fun and games. 

It can be a good time once you’re earning passive income and traveling all over the world, but you have to put in the work to get there, first. 

So, it’s time to get into some of the difficult parts of this business. 

Establish connections

As mentioned above, you will likely struggle in your attempts to start an affiliate marketing business if you don’t have connections with both brands and affiliates. 

The best way to do this is by starting with the advertisers. But, before you even get to that, you need to make sure that you have your niche established. There are already well-known affiliate marketing network businesses out there who excel in connecting brands and affiliates (think the Amazon Associates Program), and you don’t want to try to compete with someone like that. 

Instead, find your niche (two, maximum) and start to reach out to advertisers to get your partnership ball rolling. 

Once you start doing that, you want to reach out to quality affiliates who also fit the niche(s) you have decided to focus on. Expect to only get smaller clients when you are just starting and expect to strengthen your network over time to where you can attract bigger ones.

Step 1: Choose your niche

As mentioned above, before you do anything with your affiliate marketing business, you need to decide on a niche.

Since you are coming in as a newbie, make sure that you pick at most 2 niches to focus on. You do not want to try and do every industry from the get-go.

The most common affiliate marketing verticals are: 

  • Travel
  • Gaming
  • Crypto
  • Finance
  • Mobile
  • E-commerce
  • Nutra (neutraceuticals)
  • Education 

By focusing on one or two verticals, you can find experts in those areas who are interested in working with you.

Step 2: Establish credibility

To score clients, you need to have some experience in affiliate marketing. 

You may have some from previous work experience, or you may need to hustle and get some experience, quick.

Pro-Bono Work

If you don’t have enough experience in affiliate marketing to get many clients, then we suggest you start by doing some pro-bono work to get some experience under your belt. 

You can do this by reaching out to smaller advertisers and telling them you’ll help to connect them with affiliates for free for a certain amount of time. In exchange, they can write a client testimonial for you and you can use them as part of your portfolio.

Look Within Your Network

Another place to start building your experience in affiliate marketing is with your network. 

See if any friends or family who own businesses are willing to let you do some affiliate marketing work for them to get your portfolio and experience built.


A website is an absolute necessity when it comes to your affiliate marketing business. This serves as a way to show both advertisers and affiliates that you are a real business, and that you have experience in affiliate marketing. 

To help you create a website that will get you the clients you want, we suggest using WordPress

As the world’s most popular website builder, WordPress has helped millions of people create websites for their businesses, and makes the process much easier than it seems. 

WordPress provides you with everything you need to get your website started. Some of the tools you can take advantage of when using this platform are: 

  • Custom domains
  • Hundreds of themes
  • Mobile-friendlsiteses
  • Fast support
  • Built-in social sharing
  • In-depth stats
  • SEO tools 

You can customize your website as much or as little as you want with WordPress. The more comfortable you get with this platform, the more you can play around with the features and make your website stand out from others. 

One WordPress feature that is most important to someone starting an affiliate marketing business is the portfolio. WordPress offers themes that have portfolios built into them so that you can share the clients you’ve worked with. 

You may also want to have a page on your website where you share client testimonials so that potential clients can see your success stories from the other parties involved.

Step 3: Find advertisers

Now that you’ve got your niche determined, it is time to look to advertisers to start the deals. 

When you are just starting with your affiliate marketing business, it is important to be realistic about where you are. 

Know that the chances of a big brand with a big budget working with you are pretty slim. They likely already work with a large affiliate network and are likely happy with the work that’s being done. You may be able to change their mind down the line, but first, you need to focus on getting some clients under your belt. 

With your defined niche, you can start to target advertisers in the same industry that are smaller and look like they could benefit from affiliate marketing, or increasing the amount of affiliate marketing they are doing. 

There are a couple of ways you can reach out to these advertisers.

Social Media

Create social media profiles for your affiliate marketing company and use them not only to promote your work but also to connect with potential advertisers. 

Take the time to research companies that are in your niche, and reach out to them via DM to pitch working with them to get them more affiliate marketing.

Cold Emails

Though this may not be the favorite tactic in business to use, it is one that you keep hearing about because it works. Cold emails are a numbers game – the more you send out, the higher your chances of hearing back from someone are. 

When sending out a cold email, be sure to keep the following things in mind:

  • Make it short and to the point
  • Use a catchy subject line
  • Suggest a phone call to discuss further

Step 4: Find affiliates

So you’ve got half of the affiliate marketing network sorted out, and now you need the missing piece to complete the puzzle: affiliates. 

Once you have established a reputation with advertisers and they know they can trust you, it is time to start connecting with affiliates.


Before signing on to work with you, affiliates are going to want to see numbers. They want to see the successes you’ve had, and also whether what you’re offering them from an advertiser is worth their time. 

As mentioned above, to build your experience that you can show off to affiliates, you need to work with people already in your network, or do some pro bono work.

Payment Structure

For an affiliate to want to work with you, it is important that you have your payment structure established and that you make it very clear to the affiliate. 

It is their job to promote the product or service from the company you’re offering them, so the affiliate will want to know what they stand to make in commissions and any other pricing information. 

From your end, you want to be as flexible with payment as possible. This benefits both parties that you work with and results in happier clients that will continue to work with you.

Step 5: Consider creating a reward system

Sure, a few big clients here and there may be great, but to make your affiliate marketing business a real success, you want to think about setting up a reward system for your affiliates. 

This will encourage them to continue to work with you project after project and for the long-term because they stand to gain something from it that goes beyond just their commissions.

Step 6: Keep track of stats

As you are building your affiliate marketing business, numbers will be very important. 

You want to be diligent about keeping track of stats and tracking the performance of your campaigns. This needs to be done for both the advertisers and the affiliates so that they both see what they are gaining from working with you. 

These stats are very important in the beginning as you build credibility, but continue to be important as your business grows because they will help you get long-term clients that continue to work with you. 

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