Building a profitable affiliate website is not an easy task. It takes a lot of work, a lot of dedication, and a ton of perseverance. Simply put, there’s no easy way to build out an affiliate website that’ll actually generate revenue.
That is, not without the proper information.
Hence the reason for this post.
My goal is to give you an outline of the core fundamentals. We’re going to start right from the beginning and walk through the process of building out a profitable affiliate website.
If you’re not quite at this stage yet then you might want to take a minute to learn about affiliate marketing.
Finding the perfect niche
All good affiliate sites start with a relatively focused niche.
Without a starting niche, it’s almost impossible to build a profitable affiliate website. Beyond that, without knowing how to identify a niche, you’ll never actually find one. It’s a bit of a vicious cycle that a lot of new affiliate marketers get stuck in.
With that in mind, let’s take a second to define what a niche is.
As simple as possible, a niche is nothing more than a subset of a larger industry. For instance, technology could be your industry and recording equipment could be your niche. You could break it down even further to a specific type of recording equipment. Another example could be pets as an industry and focusing on dogs as your niche – maybe even a specific breed of dog.
The alternative is focusing on the entire industry – these are referred to as authority sites. An affiliate site that focuses on a specific niche can grow into an authority site, but it’s often near-impossible to build an authority site from the start (without hiring writers).
Makes sense? Okay, moving on.
Now that you know what a niche is, it’s time to talk about how to find a good one. In a perfect world, you would be able to write about whatever you want and make a living; unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world.
Long story short, you’ll have to spend some time scouting for profitable niches.
Ideally, you should create a list of the topics that you enjoy most. From there, you should look them up somewhere like Google Trends to see if there’s any growth in popularity. If a niche is falling in popularity, it might not be a good choice.
Once you have your list narrowed down to options that are either growing or remaining steady in popularity, it’s time to knock some more options off the list. This time, we’ll be determining which of those niches might be profitable. To do this, you’ll want to type your niche into Google followed by “affiliate programs”. If you get a lot of results for various related affiliate programs, it’s a good potential option. If you can only find 1-2, it might not be a good choice.
Sidenote: If you’re really keen on a niche that you can’t find many related affiliate programs for, check out the marketplace sites like Amazon, or aggregators like Google Shopping. Both have affiliate programs and the added bonus of brand recognition among practically everyone in the world.
At this stage, we’re not super focused on signing up for any affiliate programs since we haven’t picked a niche. But, at the same time, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to make note of the companies that have affiliate programs in your desired niches.
The last step to finding the perfect niche is a basic competition analysis. Or, simply looking up the biggest sites in your prospective niche. If the search results are completely flooded by huge authority sites like Wirecutter, CNET, and the other behemoth reviewers, it might be an extremely tough niche to earn in. It’s not impossible to outrank those giants, but it does take A LOT of time.
In comparison, the best niche to start out in is one with as little competition as possible.
Picking the perfect domain name
Picking a niche is a big step towards getting started, but we’re not done yet. Now it’s time to pick a good, brandable domain name – this will effectively be your business name moving forward.
The reason I’ve left this until after picking a niche is that your domain name should be semi-related to your chosen niche. In my experience, it makes it a lot easier to come up with ideas for a domain name once you know what your website is going to be about.
A domain name isn’t something that’s going to be free either – the old adage, “it takes money to make money” is true in affiliate marketing. Generally speaking, they’ll cost about $10-$15/year depending on where you’re buying it. That’s not the only associated cost either, beyond that you’re also going to need hosting.
As far as where to buy one goes, your options are far from limited. There are dozens, if not hundreds of websites out there that sell domain names – this includes pretty much every major hosting company. Some of the more prominent registrars are Namecheap, Godaddy, and Domain.com.
The main thing you want to look for in a name is that it’s brandable. Ideally, your domain name should contain as few words as possible, it shouldn’t be hyphenated, and it should be a .com. In 2020, you want to avoid “exact match domains” (EMD) that target specific keywords.
Chances are, your first idea will be taken. Your second and third ideas might also be taken. But, if you keep trying you’re eventually going to find something that you like and that’s also available.
It’s not a great idea to change your domain name once you’ve picked it and set your site up. It’ll mess with SEO and can completely destroy a new site – it can also do the opposite but that’s a topic for another post. For that reason, make sure you’re picking a domain name that you’re not going to want to change 2 months down the road.
Building the perfect website
Once you have a niche and a domain name, it’s time to start building out your website. It’s not as difficult as it sounds, but it’ll definitely take some learning and a bit of technical know-how.
It would take another entire post the length of this one to explain all of the intricacies of building your website, so with that in mind, I’m going to keep this short and sweet.
The absolute worst thing you can do when building your site is to get hung up on the design. I’ve watched a lot of new affiliate marketers waste weeks on the design of their website when they could have been moving forward instead.
The perfect niche site doesn’t have to be the prettiest or featuring the most cutting edge technology. What it has to be, is useful to the people who will be reading about and potentially buying what you suggest.
Your site must feature a clean structure. It must be organized and it must make it easy to find the information a user might be searching for. That’s really all that’s required.
Luckily, with modern content management systems like WordPress, Wix, Joomla, etc, it can be quite simple to build an efficient and effective website.
Personally, I suggest using WordPress. It’s super easy to use and learn, there are a ton of themes available (both free and “premium”), and there’s a plugin for practically everything you’d ever want to do.
Publishing the perfect content
There’s a saying that’s always been true to affiliate marketing, “content is king”. It was true in 1996 when Bill Gates first said it, and it’s still true today. I don’t have a crystal ball, but I have a feeling that’s still going to be true 5 or 10 years from now.
That’s to say, you could have the best looking and most high-tech website on the planet… But, if there’s no content, no one is ever going to see your creation. Without content, even if someone magically lands on your website, they won’t have anything to read.
That’s why content is king. Not just any old content either, it has to be high-quality content targeting researched keywords.
You could write all day long, but if you’re not implementing keywords and focusing on enhancing your content’s SEO, chances are your posts won’t rank very well.
When you’re first building your website, you want to stick to a relatively steady upload schedule. Ideally, you should be posting at least twice per week, but you could also post twice per day every day if you wanted to. There’s really no upper limit, the more you post the faster you’ll grow.
The length of your content plays a big role in your chances of ranking. Your posts should be no less than 250 words each; however, posts in the range of 1000-2000 words often rank the best. You don’t want a lot of fluff and filler to pad your word count, but you also don’t want to get penalized by Google for “thin content” either.
At this stage, you’ll want to try and avoid posting very many review-type posts. Instead, you want to post informational and/or instructional type content. Typically, you want to try and have 80% informational/instructional and 20% marketing in the beginning.
Personally, some days I can write 2-3 posts and others I can’t write 1. So, I take advantage of those more productive days by simply not publishing all of the content at once. I might schedule it to automatically post later that week or maybe just the following day.
If you can maintain this for a month while consistently posting high-quality content, it’s practically guaranteed that you’re going to see some traffic starting to roll in.
Implementing the perfect affiliate programs
“But why shouldn’t I do it earlier?”
Good question! There’s a good reason why you shouldn’t add affiliate programs until you’ve published a bunch of content and are finally seeing some traffic.
Because it wasn’t very important.
Up until this stage, your focus should have been on picking a profitable niche, building your website, and creating copious amounts of content. Without those 3 things, plus traffic, an affiliate program would have been pretty useless.
Not only that, but a lot of companies will require you to have an active website before they’ll even approve you for their affiliate program.
Now, we’re going back to something we did in step 1. You’ll want to head over to Google and search your niche followed by “affiliate program” – for instance, “headphones affiliate program“. Another option is searching specific companies in your niche followed by “affiliate program”.
If you wanted to use Amazon’s Associates program, this is the time to sign up for that as well.
Once you’re signed up and approved for some programs, it’s time to start placing some affiliate links in your most popular pieces of content.
You’ll want to avoid going too crazy with your affiliate links, only use them where they’ll actually help your readers. Avoid linking phrases such as “click here” as it’s typically better to use a related bit of text.
Once you’re at the stage of implementing affiliate programs, you’re not far away from generating some revenue.
However, you can’t just stop posting content. If you do that, your site will – more than likely – stop growing completely and potentially even start to lose traffic. You could slow down your posting scheduling, but when you’re so close it’s better to post even more.
Building a profitable affiliate website is all about consistency and commitment. Without those 2 key ingredients, your chances of success plummet. If you can commit to consistency, chances are you’ll eventually get there.