Affiliate marketing is the bee’s knees. Bloggers like Adam Enfroy and Ryan Robinson print cash by converting their traffic into affiliate revenue.
And the best part? You can too.
Affiliate blogging, in essence, is simple. It’s a pretty clear-cut process, but the journey is what trips people up.
It takes lots of determination to push through to the point you’re making money. You don’t just set up a blog, throw out some content, paste some affiliate links, and watch the money roll in.
Instead, you need to learn and combine several key skills to find success with it. And of all these skills, the most is persistence.
Even if you’re the greatest affiliate blogger in history, it will be a minimum (and I mean even with a full content team) of several months from your first blog post to your first affiliate commission.
But if you persist and push through the content marketing grind? The rewards are immense—ask Adam Enfroy and Ryan Robinson.
If you’re still here and not turned off from the challenge, then it’s time to get started. I’ll teach you everything you need to know to start your affiliate blog.
Let’s dig in.
First, What Exactly Is an Affiliate Blog?
Before moving forward, let’s get our definitions straight. You might only have a foggy idea of what an affiliate blog is—or no clue at all—so I want to make sure we’re on the same page.
An affiliate blog is a blog (like the one you’re reading) where you post content that includes affiliate links.
You get affiliate commissions from the companies or advertisers who provide those links—just for sending leads their way. It’s a great way to monetize your blog if you can’t or don’t want to sell your own products (though the two aren’t mutually exclusive at all).
For instance, Adam Enfroy’s site is an affiliate blog. He runs an online course, yes, but the overwhelming majority of his income comes from affiliate blogging.
It’s a similar situation with Ryan Robinson, who I’ve spoken to directly. He makes a ton of money with affiliate blogging but still contracts as a content manager for different firms (no doubt getting paid a metric ton).
They both make/have made seven figures with blogging.
Their income reports are not only listed on their blogs, but Adam’s, in particular, was independently verified by Business Insider when doing his feature.
So yes, affiliate marketing is profitable, and it’s not hypothetical.
Starting an Affiliate Blog Step-By-Step
Okay, now the part you’ve been waiting for—starting your blog.
1. Find Your Niche
The first step, before you even set foot in the WordPress dashboard, is to find your niche.
Your niche is the specific market you plan to target. You don’t want to be randomly discussing all aspects of general topics like underwater basket weaving.
Instead, pick one specific area to focus on. This could be anything from healthy eating to SEO to running a blog.
The more specific, the better—“ketogenic diet for runners” is a much more targeted niche than “dieting.”
Just make sure it’s actually profitable. If you want to make money with affiliate blogging, the thing you write about actually has to, y’know, make money.
The easiest way to know if a niche is worthwhile is too look how much affilaite in its niche make. You can do this by using an SEO tool like Ahrefs to determine a given blog’s traffic value.
2. Research Your Niche
Research your niche to understand what’s already out there. Read similar blogs, look for YouTube videos, and eavesdrop on niche-specific forums.
The more you understand what’s currently going on, the more you’ll be able to create content in a way that’s helpful to your readers.
Before launching my blog, I studied Adam’s and Ryan’s blogs carefully. Just by simple conversation, I learned a massive amount of useful content that made a huge difference in my growth.
Here’s what to look for:
- Which products do people most often buy in the niche?
- What do people look for when they search?
- What problems do people have that they need help with?
- What content do people actually engage with?
3. Secure Your Domain Name
Before you can start blogging, you’ll need a domain name.
This is how people and search engines find your blog on the web. Your domain name should be easy to remember and relevant to your niche.
I recommend buying your domain through an independent registrar like Namecheap.
Namecheap, in particular, has great prices and customer service. It’s where I got my domain from!
Deciding on your domain name
Here are some tips for choosing your domain name:
- Keep it short. Shorter domain names are easier to remember and type.
- Your domain should match your blog’s content. Just don’t be too specific, or else you won’t be able to broaden your scope later.
- Consider using your name. This lets you build a personal brand around your content and makes it easier for people to remember you.
Your domain, more or less, is your blog’s name. Consider it carefully because changing it later is effectively impossible (you would basically have to start over).
4. Choose a Blogging Platform
Once you’ve chosen your domain name, you’ll need to choose a platform for your blog.
If you’re serious about making money with your blog, you want a full-featured platform like WordPress.org.
WordPress.org is a self-hosted platform, which means you’ll need to rent your own server space or use a hosting platform like Cloudways for your site.
Why use WordPress?
WordPress has been around since 2003 and is used by millions of sites, big and small. It’s an incredibly powerful platform with many features that let you do almost anything with your blog.
It’s also the best choice for search engine optimization (SEO) thanks to its extensive customizability. Other more streamlined site builders like Wix and Squarespace are extremely limited in their customizability—you can’t even change your URL structure.
Those site builders are also mega-clunky and slow! Speed is crucial for SEO—trust me, use WordPress!
5. Host Your WordPress Blog
Now that you’ve chosen your platform, it’s time to host it so people can actually find it on the net. For this, I unequivocally recommend Cloudways.
Cloudways is the easiest, fastest, and most reliable way to host your WordPress blog. It comes with a built-in WordPress management panel, so you don’t have to worry about messing with servers or coding.
What sets Cloudways apart from other hosting platforms is its affordability relative to its awesome performance. You can start with a plan as low as $10/month, which is perfect for starting bloggers.
I recommend getting either a DigitialOcean or Vultr server at 1 GB of RAM—plenty for a site with no traffic. You’ll need to upgrade later, no doubt, but it’s fantastic to start with.
How to start with Cloudways
Launching your server is easy, just follow these simple steps:
- Head over to Cloudways and click “Sign Up.”
- Choose an application (WordPress).
- Choose a server provider (I recommend DigitalOcean or Vultr).
- Select your plan.
- Select your server size (again, 1GB should be good).
- Input your billing information and click “Launch.
- Select a domain name (which you’ve already bought with Namecheap).
- Select your server location.
- Configure your WordPress site.
- Connect your domain name with your server
6. Install a Beautiful Theme
Once you’ve launched your server and installed WordPress, you need to choose a theme for your blog. The theme controls how your blog layout and design look.
I highly, highly recommend Astra. Astra is lightning-fast, SEO-friendly, and incredibly customizable. It’s also light on code and works well with page builders like Elementor, Beaver Builder, and Gutenberg.
You can get Astra and its awesome Pro version directly from Astra or install the free version from your WordPress dashboard.
Once you’ve installed the theme, you’ll need to configure it—things like where your menu should be and what colors your theme should have.
Astra gives you this configuration out of the box, which makes it incredibly easy to use.
7. Install Essential Plugins
Now that you’ve got a great theme, it’s time to install some essential plugins to maximize your blog’s success.
Plugins are bits of code that add additional features to your blog. This can include things like analytics, contact forms, or even an online store.
Here’s what I use (and you should too):
Yoast lets you optimize your titles and meta descriptions for maximum search engine visibility and ensures your content is as accessible as possible. It also generates your XML sitemap and lets you configure URL structure.
Note that Rank Math is an increasingly popular Yoast alternative, and I will probably make the switch at some point.
WPRocket is a caching plugin that minifies your site’s code and serves cached versions of your pages to your visitors. This makes your site load a lot faster and boosts your SEO substantially.
If you want to understand how people find, use, and interact with your content, MonsterInsights is a must-have.
It integrates with Google Analytics to give you an inside look at your blog’s performance.
Shield Security protects your blog from malicious attackers and also actively blocks spam comments.
It’s also tremendously helpful if you have multiple users on your site, as you can customize their roles and capabilities.
WP Mail SMPT
Your WordPress site isn’t meant to send mail. WP Mail SMTP ensures your pit emails arrive in your destination mailbox instead of in spam or simply disappearing.
This plugin reconfigures the wp_mail() function in WordPress to use an SMTP server instead of a mail function.
8. Create Cornerstone Pages
Now it’s time to put some content on your blog.
You’ll need to create a few cornerstone pages to start—these will be a permanent part of your blog and are designed to convince people to stick around and/or sign up for your email list.
Here’s what I recommend for most blogs (your theme should have included most/all of them):
Your homepage should be engaging, easy to navigate, and should tell your visitors what your blog is all about. Include an email opt-in form to pick up some easy subs.
Your about page should describe who you are, why you started your blog, and what your mission is. Don’t make it generic—go in-depth on your life story so readers can connect with you.
Your contact page should include a form for people to contact you and also a link to your social media profiles.
Not sure how to design and build these pages? Astra is compatible with Elementor, so you can easily drag and drop your way to awesomeness.
Blog Post Template
Create a blog post template to ensure a consistent look and feel, making it easier to read and navigate your content.
Try to pick a post template that’s mobile friendly and optimized for readability. Astra comes with a few great templates already built in!
Oh, and make your content width 850px. Trust me, it’s the best for readability—you don’t want readers’ eyes darting back and forth.
Blog Archive Template
Your blog will fill up with content over time. Make sure you have a template for your archive to give your readers a good experience when browsing through your knowledge library (and they will!).
Again, Astra has some great built-in options here—I recommend using the dual-columns template.
9. Create Search-Optimized Content
Creating content is the single most important part of blogging.
But not just any content—search-optimized content.
You want your content to be as accessible and search-engine friendly as possible. To do this, you need to make sure your language is natural and your content is rich in keywords related to your niche.
Use SurferSEO to optimize your content’s titles, meta descriptions, URL structure, focus keywords, etc. This will ensure your content is visible to the right searches.
Also, don’t forget to include internal links to other content on your site and external links to outside sources. This will boost your blog’s credibility and help search engines understand what your content is about.
Writing for search intent
You should write with your audience’s search intent in mind. Does your content answer their questions or provide them with valuable information on the topic?
For example, “How to create a blog” vs. “Step-by-step guide to creating a WordPress blog.”
The latter title is more likely to bring visitors who are interested in creating a blog and wouldn’t waste their time reading content that’s not tailored to their needs.
Using blog-style formatting
Writing for blogs isn’t the same as any other medium.
Use headings and subheadings to break up your content, as this makes it much easier for readers to scan and pick out the bits of info they’re interested in.
Bullet points and images/videos are also incredibly helpful.
And finally, make sure your content is engaging. Your readers are more likely to stick around if you write with a conversational tone and weave in stories and anecdotes throughout.
Most people blog skim content before they actually dive into it. Your goal is to convince them you’re worthy of further investigation.
10. Build Links With Guest Posting
Link building is a crucial SEO tactic for boosting your website’s visibility in the SERPs.
Guest posting is, by far, the most effective way of doing so.
By writing for other blogs, you can tap into their existing audience and gain increased exposure, traffic, and backlinks. You also get the best kind of links: in-content, as opposed to just randomly placed somewhere.
Be picky about who you guest post for. Make sure it’s a site that has an established readership and good content, as this will have more of an impact on your own blog’s SEO than a random link to an unknown site.
You don’t need to be a prolific guest poster to get the benefits. Just writing a few quality posts can dramatically improve your link profile and make your blog more competitive on the SERPs.
How to secure guest posts
To secure guest post spots, you’ll need to email their content manager (or whoever else manages your target website’s blog). You can find this person’s identity on LinkedIn, and you can find their email by using an outreach tool like Hunter or Seamless.
That said, this is only half the work. The other half is actually convincing them to let them write for you in your email.
- Start your email by introducing yourself and your blog
- State your value proposition—what can you offer their readers?
- Demonstrate your knowledge and expertise to prove you’re worthy of a guest post spot
- Pitch a few topics you’d like to write about
- Include a link to your blog and other relevant sites where you’ve been featured
- End the email with a call to action (e.g. “can we schedule a call?”)
Finally, remember that emails are a two-way street.
Don’t be afraid to follow up, but also don’t be too aggressive about it. Most people are busy and will respond when they can—so make sure you’re polite and understanding in your emails.
11. Put out a ton of high-quality content
You need to put out a lot of content. Content that’s interesting, well-researched, and written in a way that people will actually read it.
That’s how you build traffic. The more content you produce, the more impressions you get, and the more clicks you get—simple.
But be aware of your content’s quality. Slapping together some low-effort blog posts or recycling the same old topics won’t get you anywhere.
Instead, research trending topics and come up with unique angles you can take on them. Brainstorm ideas and think of ways you can add your own spin on them.
Aim to publish at least one new post per week if nothing else, but you should post more if I’m honest. Once a week is only 52 articles a year, and that’s simply not enough to scale quickly.
Creating subject authority with topic clusters
A great (and necessary) way to build rankings on certain subjects is to create topic clusters.
This means creating an in-depth article on a broad topic, then drilling down into more specific subtopics in additional posts.
This type of content marketing will keep your audience engaged and help you rank higher in the SERPs, as Google tends to favor content that provides a deeper look into a particular subject.
Which brings us to our next point:
12. Follow an Intentional Content Strategy
Your content strategy should be intentional, comprehensive, and organized.
Start by mapping out the topics you want to write about. Once you have a rough idea, you can start researching and planning out your content.
I recommend using Ahrefs to find keywords you rank easily rank for within your target topics. In fact, that’s exactly how I came up with the topic for this article.
I looked for questions related to affiliate marketing with a maximum keyword difficulty (measured by backlink density of top-ranking articles) of 10. I found “how to create a blog for affiliate marketing,” and the rest is history.
13. Find Affiliate Programs
Once you’ve started getting traffic, it’s time for the moment you’ve been waiting for—affiliate marketing.
You’ll need to find programs that suit your blog’s niche, as this will be the main way of earning money. Luckily, it seems like most companies have affiliate programs these days, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find something that fits.
Be sure to choose programs that you genuinely believe in, as your readers will pick up on any disingenuousness (ahem, bloggers recommending BlueHost, which none of them use).
How to find good affiliate programs
When looking for good affiliate programs, Google is a great place to start.
Search for “[niche] + affiliate program” and see what comes up. There are also tools like Commission Junction, ShareASale, and Clickbank that can help you find the perfect program.
You should also do some research on their commission structure, payout thresholds, and cookie durations so that you can make an informed decision. Make sure to compare offers too and find the best one for your blog.
14. Keep Optimizing, Keep Growing
An affiliate marketer’s work is never done. They always have dozens of competitors on their heels, waiting to pounce upon their precious, money-making rankings.
Bloggers tend to forget that SEO isn’t a one-time task. To keep up with changes in the SERPs and to push your blog further, you must constantly be optimizing and improving your blog’s SEO.
This means regularly doing keyword research, tracking competitors’ keyword rankings, and updating content to make sure it’s still up to date.
You should also track your own SEO performance (using tools like Ahrefs or SEMRush) to make sure everything is running smoothly.
Finally, don’t forget to keep your blog active. Keep putting out new content, promote your old work, and interact with your readers to show them you care.
Creating a successful blog for affiliate marketing is a challenge, but with the advice mentioned above, you’ll have a much better chance of not only achieving your goals but surpassing them.
Remember to create quality content, optimize for SEO, and keep your blog active and promoted. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication, but the rewards will be well worth it.
If you have any questions, drop them in the comments, and I’ll answer ASAP. If not, I hope to see you out there (just not ranking above me)!