Starting an affiliate website is simple and fast, especially compared to other ways to start a business. You don't need investors. You don't need inventory. You don't need staff.
Actually, you don't even need a good idea.
My first affiliate website ideas were total garbage. I had one about equestrian products (I don't own a horse), and I had one about ankle rehab. Bleh. Those are long gone now. Failure is just part of the process.
Luckily, it's cheap to fail in affiliate marketing. Starting a crappy website costs you just $15 per year for the domain name. It's not like a failed restaurant which could leave you $200,000 in debt or a bankruptcy filing.
So just get used to the idea that your first website probably won't be a home run (it might be though – that does happen a lot!).
I've built 100's of affiliate websites in the past decade, and I've got a process I can show you to help you get it right – sooner rather than later. If you stick with it, I truly believe you can quit your job and do this full time within a year or two. Most affiliate marketing courses teach basically the same thing, and I'll break it all down on this page.
Building an affiliate website is just like building a regular WordPress blog-style website. We are not building an online shopping mall. This is not an ecommerce or drop shipping store. This is not an MLM. You're not selling t-shirts. It's also not an Amazon clone, or a funnel.
It's just a blog, and you're just going to be publishing articles.
I know lots of you reading this are going to want to complicate things, but this method of building affiliate websites has generated a six figure income for myself for the past 8 years. I started in 2010. It took two years to learn and build, and now I've got a business for a lifetime.
Am I a millionaire? No. Not yet. Still working on that. I'll update my site when I reach that milestone, then all my ads will say “become a millionaire like me” instead of “make six figures like me”. LOL.
Let's get started.
Start Your Affiliate Website (Step By Step)
Three Parts To Your Website
There are three basic things you need to get your website working properly.
- Website Builder (CMS)
They all work together to make the millions of websites available on the internet. Just those three things!
- The domain is the website address, that's pretty obvious.
- The hosting is the place where you store your files: images, text, and code.
- The website builder is the engine that runs everything and displays it nicely so people can read it on their computer or smartphone.
There are many choices for website builders, but we are going to use WordPress. It's free, and is very versatile. That means you can do a lot of different awesome things with it, AND it means you have a lot of choices of hosts (we'll discuss that later).
I will make some suggestions for services for each of these components on this page.
- Domain Cost: $15/year
- Hosting Cost: $10-$60/month
- Website Builder Cost: Free
Namecheap is cool because they have flat-rate pricing and do not try to sell you a bunch of gimmicks like more popular registrars.
Kinsta is the host I use. They are more expensive than other hosts, but super fast, and they are a truly “managed” hosting service. That means you'll be able contact them with questions or problems and they'll walk you through the solutions. Most cheap hosts do not have this kind of service. You're pretty much on your own with those guys!
My advice is to avoid the popular companies Godaddy (registrar) and Hostgator (host). They suck beyond belief. This is based on many years (6+) of personal experience with these companies. They are two of the most popular brands in their category, but are not worth your stress.
If you don't have an idea for your website yet, then you need to do the first couple lessons of my affiliate marketing course (100% free, no email opt-in). You can also just comment on the bottom of this page.
How To Build A WordPress Website (The Hard Way)
Below is the process laid out step by step of how to build your website. This will be the foundation to your affiliate business. Though the steps probably look pretty confusing, here's two bits of advice.
One, you can probably just ask your host to build your site for you. Many hosts, especially managed hosts, are happy to get you as a new customer and will accommodate requests, even if it's not specifically part of the package you ordered. They may also have a paid option where they can set up the site for you. Keep in mind though, when I say, “build your website”, it's just the basic framework. The website will not be ranking or earning money, and it won't have any content on it!
Two, processes change all the time as technology improves. There are thousands of hosts, and their precise steps to build a WordPress website will change many times over the year. It's actually better to just consult the WordPress tutorial for your specific host you choose.
Steps To Build A WordPress Website
- Purchase Domain From Registrar
- Point DNS to your Nameservers (may take 24-48 hours)
- Log Into cPanel
- Go to Addon domain and Create Domain*
- Go to Site Software
- Choose Blogs => WordPress
- Create Username, Password, Email, Install URL, etc. info
- Install WordPress at the root domain (leave installation URL blank)
- Select Create New Database (Do not change Table Prefix)
- Log into WordPress and proceed
*If this is your first domain, you will not need to “add” a domain. It will already be created so proceed to Step 5
** The process is similar for most hosts. The main idea is to get a domain, then log into cPanel and install WordPress on your domain
1. Buy a domain from your registrar
2. Change the DNS to point to your host (can take 24-72 hours)
3. Log into cPanel
This is cPanel navigation. You may or may not need to create the domain using “Addon Domains”.
4. Create your domain here
5. Go to Site Software to install WordPress (the CMS website builder)
6. Choose a WordPress blog for your website builder
7, 8, 9. Fill in necessary information. Make sure “installation URL” is blank and don't change anything about the database. Don't forget to save your password and login details.
10. Go to mywebiste.com/wp-login.php for the login page to get started!
Video: Install WordPress using cPanel (Bluehost)
Basic WordPress Design
Pretty easy, right? Most people are afraid of building their first website because they think they have to know code to get it done. Fortunately, technology has advanced over the past 20 years so now, building a website, takes just a few minutes.
Now we need to make our website look nice. With WordPress, that's pretty easy too. There are three main areas you want to learn in the beginning.
- Menus & Widgets
The “theme” of your website is the basic design element that will tell your website what to look like. You'll have a free, basic one installed from the start. However, there are 10,000+ free themes you can also choose from, plus a whole boatload of premium themes you can purchase from various companies.
Go to Appearance > Themes to get one you like. Double check it's been updated in the past few months, otherwise it could be security risk.
My advice is to start simple.
As a newbie, it's very attractive to want to get a beautiful, engaging, professional looking theme. I fell into the same trap as a newbie. Those themes are nice to look at, but the fact is, many of those things are unnecessary to actually earn money from your website.
Plus, learning how to edit and change those elements requires a bit of skill. I absolutely recommend you learn those things… eventually. For now though, you just want a basic setup. Go to Settings > Reading and make sure “Your homepage displays” is set to “Your latest posts”. Done.
You only have 24 hours in a day. In my opinion, your time is better spent learning the basics of affiliate marketing and getting content published on your website rather than trying to find the perfect image for your header, or how to change your favicon. Deal with that later. Content = traffic = clicks = sales.
Publishing content is going to be the core of your business because it's what drives traffic to your website. Publishing content is much more than just writing about what you ate for breakfast or typing a few lines about which brand of tablet you should buy. There's are some strategies I'll lay out for you below on how to create content (publish articles) so that your website can make affiliate sales and ad revenue.
If you want a cool logo, that's understandable. Get one from Fiverr.com for cheap.
WordPress “plugins” are like little apps you can install on your website to change how it looks or add functions. For example, if you want star ratings on your reviews, you can add a star rating plugin. If you want to block spam, you can install a spam blocking plugins (recommended!). Some plugins work in the background to help you with search engine optimization or creating a sitemap, while others can be seen or used by visitors to your website.
Plugins are fun, and can help you increase your traffic, visitor engagement, and affiliate sales! However, too many plugins, or poorly-made plugins can slow down your website.
Menus & Widgets
Menus and widgets are some basic design elements to all WordPress websites that you can play around with. Each WordPress theme design will be different. Some themes will have just one menu. Others will have six. Some themes will have one widget area in the sidebar. Many other themes have both footer widgets and header widgets in addition to the sidebar.
You'll have to explore your particular theme you chose to install. Again, simplicity is best! Also, don't try to add a bunch of videos or moving gifts to any widgets. It's going to slow down your website.
How To Make Money From Your Website
There are many ways to make money online. However, I've chosen to focus on affiliate marketing for my own business, and it's what encourage most people to do. Ecommerce and drop shipping sound sexy, but they involve a lot of complicated details like sourcing products, shipping stuff, and managing profit margins. Bleh.
I like the simplicity of affiliate marketing. As an affiliate marketer, the vast majority of your work as a webmaster is going to be writing articles for your website. That's my #1 daily workload. Even if I don't write articles myself, I still need to do things like find out topics to write about, then do research, assign topics to writers, then edit the content.
If you hate writing, you can definitely outsource all the work. However, I highly recommend you learn the basics of writing and search engine optimization so that you know if your writers are producing content that can actually rank. Don't assume they know what they're doing! In fact, some my be operating on bad advice from previous clients they worked with, so it's very important you give them proper direction for their articles.
Money Making Method #1: Affiliate Links
If a company has an affiliate program, you can sign up (for free), and they'll give you a special link with a unique code. For each sale you get, you can earn a commission. Percentages range from 1% up to 100%, and earnings per sale range from $.10 to $1,000+.
It's all over the map because there is such a huge range of products you can promote. You could link to ebooks, energy drinks, or electric motors for jets, and everything in between.
The key is to write helpful content so that people want to read it, and will buy stuff based on your recommendations. There's so much opportunity to make money with this method because people buy just about everything online these days, and are always searching for product reviews, comparisons, and tutorials.
You are NOT creating an online shopping mall. Your goal is to create a website about a specific topic (niche), and recommend products based on the information you write. You can do more research on niches and affiliate products using my affiliate research resource page.
Money Making Method #2: Display Ads
The advantage to display as is that you don't have to “sell” anything. As long as you get traffic, the ad network will do all the work to place ads on your site in optimal positions, and find companies/products to fill the ad space so it's relevant to visitors on your website.
The trouble is that they pay just a few pennies per view/click, so you really need a lot of traffic to earn good money. High traffic numbers are not that hard to achieve, but it does take time to gain momentum. You'll need at least a few thousand visits per day to be making good money with display ads.
This type of ad revenue is super passive though, and is ideal if you want to sell your website down the road.
BONUS! Selling Your Website
Now that I mention it, did you know you can sell your website once it's making money? Affiliate websites typically sell for 20x-40x monthly earnings, so a website earning $1,000 per month can sell for $20k-$40k.
Though I prefer to have the passive income, it's pretty sweet knowing that you're not just building an income stream, you're also building an exit strategy. You could potentially retire off of a single website sale. A website earning $30,000 per month in revenue would sell for about a million dollars. Right now, $30k net income sounds pretty unrealistic to newbies reading this, but it's very realistic, and not even in the realm of “top earning” affiliates.
In other words, if you keep building your affiliate site, there's a potential million dollar payday in your future.
Continuing Your Affiliate Training
Once your website is built, you've got a couple of options of how you can continue your training to learn how to make money from it.
Free Email Course
For a drip-fed method of learning affiliate marketing, you can join my email course about making money online. This is more of a step-by-step beginners course. It includes super basic info like different types of online business models, how affiliate marketing works, how I got started, and links to many of the tutorials here on my website.
You'll get one email per day, with a checklist of what you need to step by step.
I've broken down the entire process of what I do in my beginners affiliate marketing course. It's free. It's on this website. It's what I do to generate six-figures a year (no secrets!).
This course is more in-depth, and digs a lot more into content creation and really pushing hard to get traffic to your website. Search engine optimization and keyword research are also a big part of these trainings I've created.
Wealthy Affiliate Training
Lastly, you can join Wealthy Affiliate and see what the hype is all about. They've been helping people make money online for over 15 years, including myself, Yup. Their step-by-step training is where I got my start back in 2010.
You can take the same courses I took, and follow my footsteps…including personal help from me! I'm still an active member, and help out all my referrals to the community (I make 50% commission if you go Premium). I don't provide support here on my website, I log in daily to the community over there and answer any questions that people send my way.
Here's my full review of Wealthy Affiliate, but since I've been a member for 10 years, it's pretty long. So far, about 8,000 words, and to be honest, I think most people aren't going to have enough patience to read though it all. Actually, you might not need to anyway. It's best to just jump in and get started rather than analyze everything too much. Taking action is what gets results!
The other benefit of joining Wealthy Affiliate is that hosting is included, and they have a super-easy website builder so you don't have to mess with cPanel or DNS. Everything is targeted towards ultra-newbies, and you get the added benefit of 1-on-1 support from me.
Rank XL Authority SEO
For those of you who'd rather just pay a one-time fee (rather than ongoing membership), then Authority SEO is an excellent course. Their training is a little more advanced, and a little more technical, but some people prefer that. There's less support in terms of being able to ask questions, but there's more training on link building, which can be useful for building “authority” for your website so it ranks better.