11 Crucial Affiliate Marketing Tips I Learned Over the Years

Getting started with affiliate marketing is easier than ever. All of the information about affiliate marketing you could wish for is out there on the web – with most of it being available for free. Having said that, the sheer amount of content on affiliate marketing can be overwhelming. So, how do you sift through the noise and find the most relevant and actionable advice?

To help you make a jumpstart, I’ll give you in this guide the most important affiliate marketing tips I’ve learned over the years.

1. Pick your niche wisely

Arguably this is the most important decision you’ll make as an affiliate marketer. If you pick the wrong niche, you could have Pulitzer Prize worthy content on your site while still earning little to nothing.

Here’s where people tend to go wrong when picking their niche:

  • Too much competition. Which sites are dominating the first page of Google when you search for “best [name of product]”? If it’s sites like PCMag an CNET you’re going to have a really rough time squeezing in.
  • The market is too small. This one is quite personal as I’ve ploughed years into growing a site which found itself in a high-ticket item, yet tiny niche. Not only did I run into a monthly income ceiling which is super hard to break, but it’s also a situation where you have to be top 3 in your niche or you don’t really exist. Being a big fish in a small pond sucks – there’s no or very little room to expand. As a smaller fish in a big pond there at least will be room for you to grow.
  • The products are too cheap. Say you’re promoting $20 products and your commission rate is 5%. That means you’ll earn a buck per successful sale. In other words, you’ll need a ton of traffic and sales to earn a somewhat meaningful income.

So let’s turn things around now and have a look at how you should pick your niche:

  • Passion for your niche helps a lot. Start by identifying topics you’re at the very least somewhat passionate about. Your enthusiasm will shine through in your content and will help you sustain your efforts over the long haul.
  • Go for long-term: Choose a niche that has long-term potential and isn’t just a passing trend. This way, you can continue to grow your affiliate marketing business over time.

Choosing a niche is super important, but there’s no point in analysing the matter to death. Some people take months or even longer in order to settle on a niche. If you’re just starting out, picking a niche shouldn’t take longer than a week or two.

2. Get your design dialed in from day one

Some people argue that you should just pick any ol’ WordPress theme and start cranking out content right away. No matter how poor the design. I disagree with this premise as it will slow you down over the long haul.

Let me explain.

When your site is new, Google will start throwing some traffic at your site and see what happens. No one will be impressed by something that looks like your 12-year old nephew slapped together in 30 minutes.

Traffic Google sends to a new website, as shown in Google Search Console.
Google sends traffic to new websites to test their merits

In a world where user experience is increasingly important for both search rankings and audience engagement, a lazily designed website is a real handicap.

Poor navigation, slow load times, or an aesthetically unpleasing layout can lead to high bounce rates and low time-on-page metrics, both of which are signals to search engines that your content may not be worth ranking highly.

And down the line there will be the inevitable moment where you’ll need to redesign your website anyway.

So why not just get things right from day one?

PRO TIP: Save yourself the hassle of designing your affiliate site with an Affiliate24 site theme. Get a site which looks professional, is designed for converting visitors and is blazing fast.

3. Don’t half-ass your content

This tip is somewhat related to the previous one.

Sure, you don’t need to craft a piece of content which is so beautiful it brings tears to the eyes of anyone who reads it. But it definitely won’t serve you to crank out mediocre content and call it a day.

Here’s the thing: even if this kind of content starts ranking, you’ll still have to get back in later on and re-do the article.

Think of your content as a house you’re building. If you lay a weak foundation and use shoddy materials just to get it up quickly, you’ll soon find yourself dealing with leaks, cracks, and other structural issues. Even if people initially come to visit, they’ll quickly notice these problems and won’t want to stay, let alone return. Moreover, you’ll end up spending more time and resources fixing these issues than if you’d just done it right the first place.

Search engines are increasingly focused on delivering high-quality, valuable content to users. If your article provides little value, lacks depth, or is poorly written, it’s less likely to maintain a good ranking position, especially as algorithms continue to evolve.

In the long run, you’ll find yourself revisiting that content to improve its quality, essentially doubling your workload for the same result you could have achieved initially with a little more effort.

4. Don’t just rely on product reviews and round-up posts

An affiliate marketing website should consist of much more than just round-up posts and product reviews. It should be a comprehensive resource that offers value to its readers beyond just promoting products or services.

Here are some other types of content and features you might consider adding to your site:

  1. Educational content. Guides, how-to articles, and tutorials related to your niche can offer genuine value to your audience. If your website focuses on outdoor gear, for example, you might write articles on how to prepare for a hiking trip or how to maintain outdoor gear. This makes you a trusted resource, not just a sales platform.
  2. Comparative Analyses: Instead of just reviewing single products, compare them head-to-head to similar products on the market. This not only gives your readers more information but also provides multiple opportunities for affiliate links.
  3. Videos: These can range from product unboxings to in-depth tutorials. Videos are engaging and can be a great way to get across information that’s hard to convey in writing.
  4. User-generated Content: Encourage website visitors to share their own reviews, tips, and photos of the products in action. This not only increases engagement but also adds a layer of authenticity and trust.
  5. Podcasts or Interviews: Adding a podcast or interview series with experts in your niche can make your site a hub of valuable information and perspectives.
  6. News and Trends: Keeping your readers up to date on the latest news and trends in your niche not only keeps your content fresh but also positions you as an expert.
  7. Interactive Tools: Calculators, quizzes, or other interactive tools can be a great way to engage users and offer personalized advice, which can then be coupled with specific product recommendations.

By diversifying the types of content and features on your affiliate marketing website, you not only offer more value to your audience but also make your website more resilient against changes in search engine algorithms.

It also provides multiple avenues for monetization, rather than relying solely on affiliate links in round-up posts or product reviews.

A great example of a website doing this is SwimUniversity.com, which places affiliate links in sensible places in their how-to content:

SwimUniversity (an affiliate site) promoting a product with an affiliate link in an how-to article.

5. Keep your old content up-to-date

I understand the appeal of only focussing on pumping out new content, but every affiliate marketer should ensure their existing content remains up-to-date as well.

Image of a WordPress post showing a "last updated" text.

Not doing so could lead to your rankings slipping as search engines might deem your content outdated, while visitors might run into facts which are irrelevant, leading them to bounce off your page (which in turn can also have a negative effect on your rankings).

Here’s what I tend to do with most of my affiliate sites. Every quarter I take around 2 weeks to check and update my top 100 best performing articles. I check the facts, see if the imagery is still relevant (e.g. if you’re reviewing software products, the interface of the software you’re discussing might change over time) and I make sure that the prices I list on my sites are still up-do-date.

Doing this prevents content from becoming irrelevant and giving a bad user experience.

6. Stay on top of the latest developments (like AI)

While it is true that the key pillars of SEO have remained unchanged for the last decades (write good content, get good backlinks), the fact is that the nuances of these pillars are constantly changing.

For instance, while at some point ranking on Google seemed to revolve around writing super comprehensive articles, things have been trending lately towards a more concise approach where answers to the question are given right away.

Likewise, if you’re unable or unwilling to adapt to new technologies such as AI, you’re going to have a hard time keeping up with your competitors.

The bottom line is that it’s smart to join affiliate marketing Facebook groups, read blogs and perhaps start a mastermind group with likeminded people to stay dialed in on the latest relevant developments in the field of SEO and affiliate marketing.

7. Build a relationship with your audience

If you want to have long-term success in affiliate marketing, you should optimize for trust, not quick sales. Think of your site as a community hub where visitors seek reliable advice and recommendations.

  • Authenticity matters. Be a go-to source for genuine information. Authenticity breeds trust, making your product suggestions more impactful.
  • Engage actively. Encourage and respond to comments and questions. Frequent interaction helps you understand what your audience values, enhancing your content’s relevance.
  • Consistent value. Regularly offer valuable content, not just sales pitches. Become a part of your audience’s routine by being consistently informative and insightful.
  • Be transparent. Always disclose your affiliate ties (see the tip below). Transparency is not just ethical but also builds credibility.
  • Think long-term. Prioritize sustained engagement over quick wins. A committed audience is more likely to yield repeat visits and higher conversions.
  • Personalize experience. As you scale, use personalized emails or product recommendations to make your audience feel valued.

8. Disclose your affiliate relationships

A disclaimer for affiliate marketing informs both your audience and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that you earn revenue when someone clicks on or buys through a link posted on your site. It is a must for website drawing in a US-based audience.

Don’t forget to put one in your articles.

affiliate marketing disclaimer

Personally I tend to do this above my header, but you can put one within your first couple of paragraphs, too.

9. Keep a close relationship with your affiliate partners

It is a rookie mistake to not keep in close contact with your most important affiliate partners.

Now, if your most important affiliate partner is Amazon, this might be a bit tricky. But if you’re rather promoting smaller brands, this is often possible.

For instance, with one of my affiliate partners I speak on average once a month – sometimes more. The main advantage here is that it helps me maximize my revenues (after sending a partner a certain number of sales, you can start talking about higher commission rates).

But on top of that it also opens the door to interesting partnerships, such as co-promotion of your content. Plus, it lets me aid them in their product development, which makes promoting them easier.

10. Tap additional income streams

You can earn money on your affiliate site in so many more ways than just affiliate marketing.

Once your visitor numbers are sufficiently high (let’s say 50.000 visitors per month) it can be sensible to slap some advertisements onto your website.

But the holy grail is to start selling your own products at some point. The primary advantages here are that you have complete control over the product, pricing, and customer experience. Profit margins are higher, and you’ll receive your money right away (with affiliate marketing you’ll often have to wait between 30 and 60 days for your payout).

A good example of a site which transitioned to their own product sales is the massively popular affiliate site Epic Gardening.

Epic Gardening shop

11. Become a product expert

Most affiliate marketers never bother becoming actual product experts. I.e., they never test the products they’re writing about. So becoming a product expert is a fantastic way to stand out.

Testing the products you’re promoting not only gives you unique insights and imagery (whether through photos, videos or screencaps). It also allows you to become a true expert in your field which cannot be done by merely consuming other people’s opinions and findings.

It is the only way to be able to write products reviews which are actually worth reading and have a shot at ranking.

Do you have to buy every product you’re talking about on your site? Definitely not. In many cases this would not be financially feasible. But buying at least a few key products in your niche can already give you a massive advantage over more established affiliate sites the owners of which can’t be bothered.

With software this is easy as there are often free trials or money-back guarantees. With physical products it’s a bit trickier. But in some cases, you might be able to use the return policy. Plus you can also sell them after testing them on a marketplace like eBay. On top of that, once you have some clout, manufacturers might start sending you free products to test.  

12. Avoid shiny object syndrome

Shiny object syndrome has had a much bigger negative impact on my affiliate marketing career than I wish to admit.

Here’s what it means:

Shiny object syndrome refers to the temptation to chase after new opportunities, tools, or trends at the expense of focusing on your current projects or strategies. It’s the allure of the “next big thing” that can distract you from the project(s) you’re already invested in.

In the context of affiliate marketing, this could mean jumping from one niche to another, launching brand-new websites, or constantly overhauling your marketing tactics.

The opportunity cost of shiny object syndrome is significant. Every time you shift your focus to something new, you’re diverting resources (be it time, money, or energy) from projects that might be close to bearing fruit. You end up with a series of half-assed website projects.

The result? You work hard but have little to show for it because you’re spread too thin across multiple fronts.

So instead, have a plan and stick to it. Make one project really work before you move on to the next thing (unless the project is hopeless and you want to quit it altogether).

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