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.
You can learn as you go, and the cost is pretty cheap. Results are incredibly fast too. Consider that starting a small, local restaurant would require a $100,000+ loan from the bank. You might become profitable after 2-3 years, and your margins will be razor thin.
An affiliate website on the other hand can be profitable in six months or less. The cost of running your business is just a couple dollars per day (no exaggeration). You can run the whole operation from your house, or a hotel room. There's no licensing required. No experience required. No school required.
I started affiliate marketing in 2010, and my first affiliate website ideas were total garbage. 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. If you can't risk a few hundred dollars and a couple hours of your time, then you shouldn't be starting a business. All of these “make money with no investment” type of programs are complete scams.
Starting an affiliate site is much easier than any other type of business, but it still takes some investment of time and money. Let's be realistic.
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.
This simple method of building affiliate websites has generated a six figure income for me for a decade. It's probably a lot simpler than you imagine, but it works.
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
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 Easy Way)
There are many budget ways to start a WordPress website but they require a good amount of work, and I think it's not really worth your time at this point to learn the details of how to do it.
Personally, I build my all affiliate websites at Wealthy Affiliate, and it's what I recommend for all new affiliate marketers. Their domains are fairly priced (flat rate), and their hosting is excellent. WordPress optimized, managed hosting, for 10 websites and 500,000 visitors per month, you can't beat their $49/month pricing.
Their WordPress installation and website building platform is incredibly easy to use.
Step 1: Choose A Free Website or Premium Website
When you sign up to Wealthy Affiliate you can start with the free Starter membership and build a free website. This way you can test out their platform and see if you like it.
Step 2, 3: Name Your Website
Here I'm building a free website for demonstration. If you are building your main affiliate website for your business, you should choose a .com domain name. With Wealthy Affiliate hosting, it's easy to “move” your freebie domain to a regular .com website with the click of a button.
Most members build a free website to start, do the beginner training modules, then upgrade to a Premium account and move their work to a .com at that point.
Step 4: Design Your Affiliate Website (Basic)
Using WordPress, “themes” are the basic framed and design elements of your website. A WordPress theme will automatically install things like menus, sidebars, fonts, and color schemes. You'll work within this framework to make further changes like adding articles or putting links in your menu.
When choosing a theme, pick something simple. White background, black text. Do not chase fancy elements like moving images, complex navigation systems, or complicated home pages with tons of default images. Going simple will get you faster results since you won't be distracted with trying to design your website. I want you to start doing the work that matters most, first.
You can experiment with themes to find the perfect style after your website is built. For now, just pick one you think is good enough!
Step 5: Build Your Affiliate Website
Building your affiliate website takes about 30 seconds, then it will be ready to log in and start publishing content! Content is what gets indexed in Google and draws traffic to your website. That traffic then converts to affiliate sales, and gets you paid!
Your affiliate website at Wealthy Affiliate comes with (included with membership):
- SSL certificate & SiteSecurity for website security
- access SiteSpeed for lightning fast website loading times
- image optimizer for better page loading speed
- SEO plugin for search engine optimization
- spam blocker to protect your visitor engagement
- SiteHealth to let you know index status and rank status
- managed website hosting if you run into problems
Your Affiliate Website Is Now Ready For Publishing, Traffic, And Affiliate Links!
There's still a lot of work to do in order to earn money from our website, but the first steps are done, so we're on our way. If you haven't already, you can create your Wealthy Affiliate account and start building your own website right now. It's free to join, and you can even chat with other online entrepreneurs in the community about your initial ideas if you feel unsure about the direction of your affiliate business.
Basic WordPress Design
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. Some plugins work in the background to optimize your website, like search engine optimization or caching plugins. Other plugins can create features seen by visitors, or even create elements they can interact with.
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.
Here's a list of plugins currently installed on my 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.
Adding a new plugin is simple! Be sure to check when it was last updated though. Ideally you want it updated every few weeks, but some decent plugins can go months without updates. I never install a plugin which hasn't had an update in over a year. It could be a security issue!
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.
Note: I use pages, posts, and article interchangeably to mean “written content”. You have the option of creating posts and pages in WordPress. Google views them as the same.
Widgets are kind of like menus, but have more features. You can add HTML code, image, email opt-in, and more. Some themes may have unique widget options, or you can add more widget options with plugins. Widgets typically appear in your sidebar, header, or footer. Their location depends on the theme you 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.
There are the all the basic design elements you need to know. There are endless ways you can modify your website, and you'll learn these as you get more familiar with WordPress. You don't need to know any code at all to have an awesome, beautiful, profitable website.
I've been working with WordPress websites for 10 years now, and although my knowledge has grown greatly, I still rely on hiring freelance coders from time to time, and that's fine. You can hire a really good web developer for $35-$50 per hour. Any small elements which need to be fixed can usually be solved in less than an hour, and some more complicated products may take a few hours.
Though you're probably thinking, “No way I want to spend $250 to have someone custom code my site!”, that mindset will change once you start earning money. No worries though! You won't need that kind of work done right now. Stick with the basics!
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 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+.
These payments are from the Impact affiliate network.
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.
These payouts are from the Shareasale affiliate network.
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. If you would like to learn more about the affiliate marketing process I recommend you continue reading to the bottom of the page for resources on learning affiliate marketing.
You can do more research on niches and affiliate products using my affiliate research resource page.
Money Making Method #2: Display Ads
Display ads are super easy to implement, and awesome because you don't have to sell anything. Just publish your articles, stick in the ad code, and the ad networks do the rest. It's really that easy.
The advantage of display ads 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
All of this is pretty exciting right? If you want to start (or continue) your affiliate training, you've got a couple of options of how you can continue building your affiliate webaite learn how to make incredible 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 log in daily to the community over there and answer any questions multiple times throughout the day for anyone who joins through my link.
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 can get started and keep moving forward as fast as possible. Plus, 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 and The Authority Site System are excellent courses. Their training is a little more advanced, and a little more technical, but some people prefer that. Authority SEO is great for link building strategies, and The Authority Site System is great for niche selection.