Beginner’s Guide: How to Start an Affiliate Marketing Business

Whether you want to start, have thought about starting, or even attempted to start an affiliate marketing business, this is for you.

I’ve been doing this for 5 years now and it continues to be my main source of income as far as making money online is concerned.

Things weren’t pretty in the beginning, and they were quite the opposite.

I tried to go about things the easy way and fell for a couple of get-rich-quick type of schemes.

I figured that spending a lot of money would mean that I can make a lot of it but that’s now how it went.

Money was coming out of my bank account, and none was coming back in.

This led to a reevaluation of my situation and one that would change everything.

I was desperate, but this time I was aware of what was happening.

Throwing the get-rich-quick mentality out the window, I decided I would find a real way to do things.

I knew for a fact that people were making money online and if I could make just $1,000/month I would be happy.

Millions would be great, but starting from the bottom was the way it had to be done, as there is no way you can make millions in such a short amount of time.

That’s the mentality I adopted and that is what brought me to the wonderful world of affiliate marketing.

Now, before you can even consider starting an affiliate marketing business, it will only help if you know exactly what it means.

What is Affiliate Marketing?


First things first, affiliate marketing is real and it is one of the few ways that money can be made from the internet.

Neil Patel explains it best on his website, but in a nutshell, it is nothing more than taking other people’s products, selling them, and making a commission.

There is no need to purchase any products, and you don’t have to own one either.

However, other components are necessary, and I will be going over them here in this guide.

How it Works

Affiliate marketing is beyond simple, but a lot of moving parts are needed before you can even start thinking about any kind of money.

Unlike a traditional store, you don’t buy any products, you don’t ship anything, and you don’t even need an actual store.

The business is done by obtaining your affiliate links (usually through an affiliate network) or any other online retailer that has an affiliate program.

From there, that person will need to take some kind of action.

Getting Paid


The most basic form of payment is going to be with commissions made through the actual purchase of a product.

This is the most common way an affiliate marketer will make money but it is not the only way.

The idea of selling products can be a little discouraging to some, but these other options, it might relieve some unwanted anxiety.

Cost Per Action (CPA)

Outside of actual buying of products, this is my favorite way to make money as an affiliate marketer.

Your potential customer/visitor to your site does not need to spend a single penny, but you can still make money.

However, they must take some action for you to do anything.

In most cases, it requires the person to fill out a simple form with the ultimate goal of obtaining their email address.

Get that company a lead and you will get paid anywhere from $1 – $100 depending on the product or service provided.

And yes, companies are willing to pay you that much for getting someone’s email address.

This form of payment is done instantly and usually through an affiliate network.

Pay Per Click (PPC)

Some of you might be familiar with Google’s Adsense program, and this is exactly that.

Getting paid from simple ads on your site is one thing, but these specific ads require your site’s visitor to click on one.

You probably see these ads all over the place and you might be immune to them as well.

Now if you do decide to click on any of these ads, the owner of that site will most likely get paid by Google.

This is the oldest form of making money online and as much as it is overlooked can still bring in a good chunk of change.

Pay Per View (PPV)

This is the easiest way for affiliate marketers to make money.

Your visitors don’t need to purchase any products, and they don’t need to fill out any forms either.

You make money by simply having your website’s visitors view an ad.

They see the ad through the traffic your site brings in and you make money.

Adsense pays per click, but sites like Monumetric and Mediavine pay per view.

I wouldn’t recommend this when starting out as there is a minimum requirement of ads that need to be placed on your site.

This will slow your site down and won’t help your rankings in the search engines.

Then again, most ad networks require you to have a minimum amount of visitors to your site every month, so if your site is new then you won’t qualify.

Getting Started


The moving parts I spoke of earlier are very much critical to your affiliate marketing business as they are NEEDED before anything else.

Most affiliate networks (if not all) require several things, or you will not get approved.

So if you thought you could just sign up for an affiliate network, get your affiliate links, and start spamming social media then you’re wrong.

I’m sorry to say, but it does not work that way.

Let me save you the trouble, and I’ll show you exactly what is needed before you get started.

Some gurus might tell you otherwise just to sell you their product so they can make money but just trust me when I say this stuff is needed.

Now if you are cool with making a couple of bucks here and there then by all means buy some shortcut that will not last.

Other than that, here is what you need.

1. Training

My guide to starting your affiliate marketing business helps but it definitely will not teach you everything.

I know for a fact that you can find all the training on the net as they do exist.

That is also the best way for you to get confused and end up quitting.

Unless you want that to be you, you want to invest in some real-deal training.

As much as I would love to sit here, and hold you by the hand but you know that is not possible.

However, I am a member of an awesome community called Wealthy Affiliate, and you can get help from me there.

Training is a must but it would be best with some actual support and even some one-on-one coaching.

2. A Niche

Every affiliate marketing business starts with a passion or some interest.

Whether it be dogs, surfing, or photography, you are going to need to choose something you like.

I know there aren’t many jobs that allow for such a thing, but it is required with affiliate marketing.

Once you find what you are interested in, you can now find it a home.

3. A Website

Once you have that passion, you will need to get a piece of online real estate.

A Website.

Not to say it can’t be done without one, but this guide requires you to own one.

And if this scares you even just a little bit, just know that I once thought the same thing.

What you do need to understand is that this is not 1999.

No more coding and no more having to hire someone to design a professionally done website. was built and fully designed in 30 minutes.

This includes the logo and all the main pages.

It does not require any technical knowledge, and you can have a website up and running in less than a minute.

Now that we have that out of the way let’s go over the basics of your affiliate marketing business.

4. Content

Affiliate marketing requires you to create content around your chosen niche.

This is what some of you know as blogging.

And if you don’t think you can blog, you can either stop here or don’t let that scare you.

In my early days of blogging, my content was beyond awful.

Did that stop me?

Of course not.

Get on some kind of blogging schedule, and you’re good to go.

5. The Right Mindset

This should’ve probably been #1, but it can work just fine here.

Having what it takes to make it in the online world requires the right person.

This person must know what it takes, but they also need to think the right way.

Getting promoted at work should be the last thing on your mind.

Finding a better job should not be on the agenda.

You can’t do it should never be thought.

For most of you, you’re probably surrounded by nothing, but “normal” people and that is completely fine.

Now if you want to succeed online, you simply can not think like them.

You need to be different.

Read some cool entrepreneurial books and stay focused.

Before You Commit


Before you get started, there are several things you need to know and understand or you might just become another statistic.

Unless failing is on your list, you might want to understand what I’m about to go over next.

This is very critical to any affiliate marketer’s success as most come in and don’t know what to expect.

Rather than having you try to understand later, I think it’s best you know now.

Affiliate Marketing is Not a Get Rich Quick Scheme

Just like I said in the beginning, there is no way to make millions of dollars overnight, and it isn’t going to happen here either.

Affiliate marketing is a real business that requires the right tools, knowledge, and, most especially, the right mentality.

Knowledge is key and it is very much needed in affiliate marketing and in any business for that matter.

Patience is a Must

Money is not going to be made overnight, and it isn’t going to happen fast.

Depending on how fast or slow) you make money will be determined by a few things.

Your work ethic, your niche, and most especially the time you are willing to invest.

Some people take 3-6 months before they see their first sale, and others take as long as a year.

You Must Be Consistent

If you plan on starting an affiliate marketing business sporadically, then you aren’t in the right line of work.

Get on some schedule and stick to it.

Creating a post today and then a month from now is not going to help.

If you can do 2-3 posts a week, then so be it.

Just don’t get motivated and do 5 posts in a row and then disappear for two weeks.

Be consistent, and you will see results.

The Wait is Worth it

What bothers me is the number of people who quit right before they are about to see any kind of success.

They bust their butts on building a site and creating content just to quit three months into things.

For some, that is a long time, but if you compare it to the amount of time it takes to get a raise at your job, it’s a complete no-brainer.

Now if you can stick it out for a year, you will most likely make more money than any job you’ve held.

If, of course, you work harder than the competition.

Now if you can understand what it takes to succeed with affiliate marketing, you might just become another online success story.

Benefits of Affiliate Marketing


Enough about the harsh reality of what is needed.

With the above mentioned, there are way more benefits, and they are the same reasons why I love everything about this business.

Owning your own business is awesome, but none can compare to affiliate marketing.

So what makes it so great?


Being a veteran, I know how it is to fight for freedom, but I know how it is to be tied down to a job. It sucks.

With affiliate marketing, you work whenever you want and wherever you want. You are the boss.

More Time

I spend almost all my time with my family as I have developed a nice schedule around them.

With the opportunity to do things on my own time, I don’t miss any programs or sporting events.

Not many jobs can do that.

You Are Your Own Boss

This is definitely a great thing, but it can also be a problem.

Let’s focus on the good, as this is supposed to be the pros of affiliate marketing.

Just be responsible for your work, and don’t let the couch win.

Now when it comes to answering someone else, I’m glad that it’s only my other half.

No more trying to kiss someone’s behind and no more feeling like another human is superior to me.

No Inventory

Within any business, you need to purchase products.

Not with affiliate marketing.

On top of not buying any kind of inventory, you don’t even need to have it in your possession.

Just mentioning that in this post reminds me of how lucky I am not to have to deal with this kind of stuff.

No Shipping

In some instances, you might not need your product, but not having to ship anything makes it 10x better.

With something like e-commerce, you have to purchase products, and you are responsible for getting them to your customers.

Oh, and this includes not having to deal with returns as well.

Extremely Low Startup Cost

My young entrepreneurial life started with a bar, which pretty much started me off with no money.

I had a bar and nothing but hope that I could make back that investment.

That didn’t happen, and I really don’t care, as I got it back with affiliate marketing.

Do you know how much I spend monthly to keep my online business going?

Less than $50.

And if you think I’m lying, you can check out the Wealthy Affiliate, as they literally have everything you need to start and maintain your affiliate marketing business.

Conclusion – Start an Affiliate Marketing Business


Nothing in life is easy, and if freedom and time with your family are what you want, then affiliate marketing is one of the few things that can get you there.

If an infantryman like myself can do it, there is no reason why you can’t too.

Affiliate marketing has changed my life, and it has also opened the door to other things.

At the very least, give it a try.

Not only is this probably the cheapest way to start any business, but you can give everything a test drive without paying a single penny.

Thanks to sites like Wealthy Affiliate.

So what are you waiting for?

Start your own affiliate marketing business and begin a journey that may lead to the lifestyle that most can only dream of.

Get Started For FREE Here!

6 thoughts on “Beginner’s Guide: How to Start an Affiliate Marketing Business”

  1. John, I appreciate the information you have provided, thank you. I have a blog, products, and I am a writer, so this should work well for me. As long as there are affiliate products available that are related to my purpose, interest, and focus, I may be interested in pursuing this further however, I am An Information Hound and for me, there is no such thing as too much information. I don’t mind investing my time and some financial resources into my future in blogging and products in affiliate programs and other opportunities. I may even entertain working with someone on a project or opportunity. Your turn, nest?

    • This will definitely work great for you Viv. Unlike you, I wasn’t a writer, so you can just imagine how my content was when I first started. That crappy writing didn’t stop me though and I guess you can say I’m a writer now (lol). You are the best candidate for this business though Viv and I am very much looking forward to seeing you grow within the blogging space.

      Now the beauty about affiliate marketing is that you DO NOT NEED TO PURCHASE ANY PRODUCTS. As long as you have a blog, you can get your personal links and start making commissions. Of course it’s all in providing information, which I’m glad you understand. Now I’m confused…your turn nest? What did you mean by that?

  2. Hey John

    Thank you Sooo much for all this information and your honesty. I have been thinking about affiliate marketing on and off for a few years now and could never really get the right information on how to start . I really DID think it was as easy as signing up as an affiliate and marketing it on social media . But I have researched quite a bit having been burned a few times myself (that’s how I came across you) and now I can make a better informed decision. Thank you so much!


    • You are most welcome Kristin and I’m glad you did not give up. Just stick with it and DO NOT let anything get in the way of you and your goals. As long as you don’t give up, there is no reason why you can’t find success with affiliate marketing. Good luck on your new venture and please do keep me updated on your progress.

      – john


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