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How to Start Affiliate Marketing Using WordPress

Andrew Buck November 28, 2022

Affiliate marketing can be a highly profitable business model for content creators and product sellers. You don’t need a huge budget to get started, and you can automate much of its management with tools. When done right, there’s also no real upper ceiling in terms of how much you can earn with minimal risk. 

But affiliate marketing can also be overwhelming if you don’t know where and how to start. Without the right information and tools, you can end up wasting a lot of time, effort, and resources on unproductive tasks with little to no returns. That’s why we’ve prepared this guide to help. 

We’ll walk you through the basics of affiliate marketing — what it is and how it can benefit you. Next, we’ll touch on why WordPress is such a great platform for affiliates to set up on. Finally, we’ll share tips and tricks to help you attract more customers, so you can optimize your earning potential from Day 1.  

What Is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a business model that benefits both businesses (known as “merchants” in affiliate speak) and publishers (content creators and affiliate marketers). The merchants pay the marketer a commission for each sale or qualified lead that the marketer generates for them.

Merchants pay out the commissions to the affiliates at fixed intervals, usually once a month. 

Affiliate marketing can benefit both merchants and publishers in many ways:

“Affiliate marketing delivers an average of $12 returned for every $1 spent.”

Is affiliate marketing still worth it?

The short answer is yes, given that the affiliate marketing industry is expected to grow exponentially over the next few years. It’s expected to be worth an estimated $27780 million by 2027, expanding at a CAGR of 9.89%. 

Here’s the long answer 🙂:

84% of businesses say that affiliate marketing delivers a better ROI than other marketing channels at an average of $12 returns for every $1 spent. At the same time, you don’t want to put all your eggs into one basket.  

Use affiliate marketing to supplement your marketing campaigns, so you have a wider and more varied reach. Use a combination of organic marketing methods (blogging, social media posting, etc.) for long-term sustainability and paid search ads for quick boosts when needed. Test different marketing methods to find the ones that work the best for you. 

You can tap into a potentially unlimited source of part-time or full-time income as an affiliate marketer. If you’re a small-sized content creator, you want to build influence and a sizable following first through consistent and high-value content creation for your target audience. If you’re a well-known influencer, you have sufficient leverage to tie up with businesses directly if you’re operating within the same or a related niche. 

Why WordPress for Affiliate Marketing?

Forbes rated WordPress the best blogging platform in 2022. But over and above blogging, WordPress is also a powerful content management system (CMS). It has many features that make it especially useful for affiliate marketers and merchants.

This is why WordPress powers over 35 million websites worldwide, making it the most popular CMS today, by far.

WordPress is relatively easy to set up, use, and troubleshoot. Because WordPress is a popular tool and has been around for a long time, there are many resources you can find online in the form of articles, guides, and video content for support. 

You’ll also find an exhaustive range of plugins for all your affiliate marketing needs when you use WordPress. Plugins are tools that extend the functionality of your website. We’ll refer to some useful plugins for affiliate marketing later in this article.

How to Start Affiliate Marketing on WordPress for Affiliates

Here are some of the most important aspects to consider when you’re starting affiliate marketing on WordPress:

1. Choose the right WordPress platform

Make sure you choose the right platform. It’s easy to confuse and is ideal for bloggers who don’t plan to monetize their platform. You can use the free version to set up a basic site, and you don’t have to worry about hosting or managing the site as these get taken care of for you. The free version is limited. To obtain more features, you must upgrade to any paid plans.  

2. Choose a WordPress web hosting provider

The next step is choosing a web hosting provider. Web hosting providers “host” your website so that it’s visible and accessible online. They usually charge a fee for the service, typically payable in monthly or yearly installments.

There are many different web hosting providers available in the market like Bluehost, DreamHost, SiteGround, and Hostgator. The type of hosting needed can vary from person to person based on your needs. In general, you want to look at the following before choosing a web hosting provider:

3. Pick a profitable niche for your affiliate marketing WordPress website

To narrow down on a niche, consider what you’re most passionate about and have experience and in-depth knowledge in. Come up with a unique angle that you can bring to the table that no one else has.

Also, analyze how competitive your niche is. It can require more time and effort to rank in search engines for broad and popular niches. Narrowing down your niche can limit your audience to some extent, but it can also help you rank faster on search engines if it’s an in-demand niche that doesn’t have much competition. 

You can find your competitor websites online by searching for sub-topics that are related to your niche. For example, searching for the “best 10 TVs” in the review niche.

Next, carry out keyword research for your niche. Search Engine Journal has a very exhaustive guide on performing keyword research that can help you get started. 

There are both free and paid tools you can use for keyword research. Develop a content plan with a minimum of 30 to 40 blog posts centered on in-demand topics in your niche and incorporate your chosen keywords in your blog content. Google Trends and blog topic generator tools like Answer The Public, and WebFX can help you generate topic headlines and angles for your next blog post.

4. Create high-quality affiliate marketing content that converts

The key to creating high-quality content that converts is knowing what’s popular, relevant, and valuable for your subscribers. One example is doing product reviews, comparisons, and round-ups. 97% of consumers research products online before making a purchase. 

Product reviews are long-form reviews of the products you’re promoting. In product comparisons, you’re reviewing products side-by-side so customers can make sense of their pros and cons stacked up against each other. With product round-ups, you’re listing the top 5, top 10, etc. brands/variants of a product type like a hair dryer so customers can quickly find the best option.

An example of how to present product roundup content (via FindYourGi)

Providing honest and unbiased reviews is critical as they go a long way toward making you a credible and trustworthy resource. Remember to balance both positives and negatives when doing reviews.

Unlike product reviews or round-ups, comparisons can be tricky to manage as you need to show the features side-by-side in a way that’s uncluttered, visually appealing, and easy to understand. A tool like Easy Pricing Tables can make it easy for you to set up comparison tables on WordPress without needing to know coding or design. 

Other types of content that work just as great for affiliate marketing are:

Also, make use of some of the following tools to help edit and refine your content, so it’s engaging and easy-to-read, and most importantly, search-engine friendly:

5. Choose affiliate partners and join affiliate programs

The next step is to decide who to work with for your affiliate program.

If you’re a business, research online for influencers or content creators in the same niche. Review the type of content they’re posting and their engagement. Look for consistency and a voice that’s aligned with your brand’s voice. Also, ask for historical results before formally inviting them to participate in your referral program. 

If you’re a publisher, you can sign up with the business directly or with an affiliate network. Determine whether the program is profitable and whether there is a demand for the products before investing time and effort into it. Some niches have a ton of potential for earning via affiliate marketing – in WordPress, for example, there are numerous high-paying affiliate programs.

A referral network can give you a bigger choice of businesses to work with, but you also have to give away a percentage of your earnings as fees. 

With affiliate marketing tools, it’s become a lot easier for both merchants and publishers to work together in a transparent way that’s also automated. Typically, merchants share what are called “referral links” with marketers. The marketers will then share or embed these links in their blog posts, videos, or social media posts and encourage clicks.

These referral links redirect customers to the merchant’s product sales page or a lead generation page. When a customer proceeds to buy the product, the information gets passed on to the affiliate and the merchants on their respective affiliate dashboards. Affiliates can also use the tools to manage affiliate links, track performance, and discover new revenue opportunities.  

6. Boost conversion rate and drive affiliate sales using tools for WordPress affiliate marketing websites

Once you’ve set up your blog and started creating quality content, it’s time to drive more traffic and generate sales.

Here are some tips to boost traffic and conversion rate on your posts.

Invest in a WordPress SEO plugin

A WordPress SEO plugin will show you gaps in your search engine optimization (SEO) with recommendations. SEO is a process that helps make sure your content is visible to search engines. It also helps potential readers, customers, or leads find your products and services.

Once you install the plugin, it will show you a list of tasks to complete to optimize your content on your WordPress dashboard. Two of the most popular plugins on the market are long-timer Yoast SEO and the fairly new entrant RankMath

If you’re starting, you may find Yoast SEO more than adequate for your needs. Experienced marketers usually gravitate towards RankMath for the sheer breadth of features available on the free version alone. 

You’ll find both free and paid versions of both plugins. In either case, you’ll have a wider choice of features when you opt for the paid version.

Create landing and bridge pages for your website

A landing page is the page you’re aiming to direct traffic to, for example, your sales page or your blog page. A bridge page comes before the landing page and is used to warm up your traffic and encourage the sale.

You can use the Landing Page Cat plugin to create professional and attractive-looking landing pages in a matter of minutes. You can then embed the QuizCat plugin in your bridge page to create highly engaging and viral quizzes to generate more traffic and boost your sales. 

Start growing your email list

Paid ads can be an easy method to get a quick boost of traffic. But you also want to look at organic methods, so you have a steady stream of visitors who are organically attracted to your content. Post content regularly and engage frequently with your subscribers on your social media channels. 

Optin Cat is a popular WordPress plugin you can use to generate more subscribers out of blog readers. It has several features like the two-step optins feature, for example, which can help grow your subscriber base by as much as 700%.

Use affiliate tracking tools

The last step is to use affiliate marketing tools. Tools like these can help you track your performance, identify areas for improvement through in-depth content analytics, and optimize your earning potential. 

Affiliate Marketing on WordPress for Businesses

If you’re a business, you can follow the same steps we’ve outlined above to set up your website, with one difference — you’ll be creating an affiliate marketing program for publishers to sign up to. Alternatively, you can even join an affiliate network where the network manages your program for you in exchange for a fee. 

Refer to WPMU DEV’s exhaustive resource to help you set up your own affiliate program on WordPress. 

Bottom Line

Whether you’re a business or a content creator, starting affiliate marketing on WordPress doesn’t have to be complicated or overwhelming. These guidelines can help you set up your affiliate marketing WordPress website successfully and start generating revenue minus the fuss and stress.

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