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How to Make Your First Sale in Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is very appealing to a lot of marketers because of its irresistible promise of passive income. But in order to make that passive income flow in sufficient amounts, you do have to put some work in first.

If you want to succeed in affiliate marketing, there are a number of essential steps (which are not so passive) that you have to take before you can start to earn your first affiliate profits.

For anyone who is set on creating a real passive income online through affiliate marketing, the good news is that as long as you are willing to put in the time in the beginning, you’ll find your way to success as an affiliate marketer in no time at all.

The initial work you put in will help you make your first sale, and as an affiliate marketer, there is nothing quite like your first sale to help motivate you to keep at it. So without further ado, here are your…

4 Steps to Earning Your First Commission as an Affiliate

This process has been broken down into simple, actionable steps to make it easier for affiliate marketing beginners to implement them.

Just follow this guide and you will be on the right course to earning your first affiliate commission.

1. Choose a Niche

This is always the first step for anyone who is looking to start any kind of business online.

You can never succeed by trying to be everything to everyone. The trick is to decide on a certain part of the population that you are going to focus on or a niche that you will be targeting.

This is vitally important for you to do before you even build your first site.

Knowing what your site is going to be about, the type of people you will target with it, and all the other information about your niche will give you a firm foundation to build your affiliate marketing business on.

If you already know which niche you want to go into, then great, but if you’re having trouble deciding on one then don’t worry.

A lot of people find this to be the hardest and most overwhelming step in this entire process of building an affiliate business. Luckily for you, there’s lots of help available to assist you in making your choice.

Here are some tips that you might find very useful:

When trying to determine your niche, ask yourself these questions:

What am I really passionate about?

It’s a whole lot easier to work on something if you are passionate about it.

In addition to that, when you’re passionate about something, you usually find it easy to learn things about that topic which means you’ll probably be extremely knowledgeable about that subject.

Are others making money in this niche?

Following your passion is a great idea when building a business, but it’s not the only factor that you should consider.

It’s important to determine if the market you are moving into is proven.

You need to know if there are adequate money-making opportunities in that niche. If others are already making money there, then the odds are that you can too.

Do I see myself writing about this topic 6 months or a year from now?

If you can see yourself easily writing 50 or even 100 blog posts about the topic you’ve chosen, then it could be the one for you.

If you know that you will be able to create adequate, in-depth content on your subject for the foreseeable future then you’ve chosen well because that is the only way you will become an authority on the subject enough to convince people to buy from you.

Is this niche over-saturated?

It’s vital for you to find out if the niche you intend to go into has room for yet another affiliate marketer.

Some of the niches that appear to be extremely popular and profitable, such as the weight loss niche, are very competitive and before you jump on board, you should make sure that you will be able to compete with those marketers who are already established there.

If you don’t feel that you can, keep looking.

Are there enough people interested in your niche?

If there isn’t enough demand or interest in your niche then it doesn’t matter how passionate you are about it, you won’t be able to make money from it.

Also, there are certain niches that attract a lot of interest from audiences when it comes to reading or acquiring knowledge, but those people aren’t willing to pay to buy the relevant products.

(For example, trying to sell learning products to college kids who’ll read all the content you produce for free, but would rather pay for a beer than a digital course…)

What affiliate programs are available in the niche?

Obviously, if you’re going to make it in affiliate marketing, then you need to be able to find some products to promote in your niche.

In fact, this is one of the most crucial factors that will determine your success or failure as an affiliate marketer. If there aren’t any good affiliate programs then you won’t be able to make sales so you’d rather find a different niche.

Which brings us to the second step:

2. Find Great Affiliate Programs

Now that you’ve found your niche, it’s time to research affiliate programs to see which ones have great products that you can promote. You probably already have a good idea what’s going on in your chosen niche from all the research you conducted while choosing your niche, but now you have to dig a little deeper.

This will take a good deal of work, but it’s worth investing a significant amount of your time into it because it will make all the difference to your income at the end of the day.

The difference between promoting a mediocre product and promoting a really good product will add up to thousands of dollars in income in the long run.

When selecting an affiliate program, here are some key factors to keep in mind:
The types of merchants who use the program or affiliate network:

You want to know that other sellers in your niche are using this network as well. It will help you to gauge how likely you are to succeed with that particular program.

How much you are likely to make in commissions from the products:

You need to sign up for profitable affiliate programs that will generate sufficient returns on your investments.

For example:
  • If you’re using ClickBank or another similar digital marketplace, you should look for products that offer at least 50% in commissions. 60% would be even better. Make sure that the products have a high gravity rating as this means that they are in demand.
  • If you’re going for cost per action (CPA) programs, the commissions should be at least $1 and the products should not be overly restrictive as to how you can promote them.
  • If you choose to go with physical products, make sure that the commissions for any product that you promote are over $40.
Consider if you want to be associated with the products or services that you promote:

Whatever products you choose to promote to your audience should be relevant and of great quality. Never promote a product just for the money.

Only promote trustworthy products that you actually believe will bring value to your audience.

You should know everything there is to know about the product so that you can deliver a convincing sales pitch to your readers.

If you don’t, you’ll lose their trust and have a hard time trying to sell them anything else in the future.

Does the program provide support?

Check to see what type of customer support you will get once you’ve signed up to the affiliate program that you choose. Do your homework and research online or speak to other sellers who are using the same program.

Is there a phone chat or Skype?

Do you have to wait three days for an email response?

Be clear on all of this because sooner or later you will need help from them.

3. Build Your Site

The first couple of steps are about researching and helping you to figure out what is possible and profitable in your niche.

Now it’s time for you to start putting all that research into action. If you already have a website, great.

But if you don’t, this is going to be your next step.

Luckily, building a site is a lot less complicated today than it was a few years ago. It’s gotten to the point that even a five-year-old could build a professional looking site with very little instruction.

If you are totally new to building sites, the easiest way is by using WordPress, a CMS that is very easy to use. You don’t even need coding skills or any tech knowledge whatsoever to be able to set up your entire site.

4. Produce Awesome Content

Your site is now set up and you have chosen your affiliate programs.

You’re now ready to start what will probably be the most time-consuming part of this whole affiliate business journey, but also what is potentially going to be the most rewarding: Creating great content for your site.

The phrase ‘content is king’ is especially true when it comes to affiliate marketing. Your goal here is to establish your site as an authority in your niche.

The best way you can accomplish this is by consistently producing high-quality content that is unique and engaging.

Make sure to include plenty of the following types of posts:
Product Reviews:

In fact, your affiliate site could be based mainly on writing reviews about different products and services.

This is a common affiliate site model which, if done right, can prove to be extremely useful for generating income.

Blog Posts:

You need posts that address the common problems that your target market is experiencing as well as the questions they’re asking. Craft content that is useful and effective.

Do some keyword research to figure out what your audience is interested in and actively searching for online. Be sure to research your competitors as well as forums and social media to narrow down topics for your blog.

Evergreen Content:

Write content that will stand the test of time and remain useful for your readers. This is known as evergreen content and it’s important to have lots of it on your site, especially if your main goal is to eventually earn income on your site without having to continuously put in the work.

Carry out keyword research before you plan any of your evergreen content. Your site will benefit immensely from the right use of keywords within the content you create for your blog.

Informational Products:

Being able to give away free information products like e-books, mini-courses, or email series is something that will help you gain leverage as an affiliate marketer.

You should get your readers to give you their email address in exchange for the free products that you’re supplying them with.

You can then use their email to sell to them through email marketing. In addition to that, the information products that you give away can be used to generate interest in the actual product that you’re trying to sell.

If the product that you’re trying to sell is popular enough, you could monetize the traffic it brings in through other ways like AdSense.

Certain types of content perform better in some niches than others, so the kind that you create for your blog will mostly depend on the niche that you are in.

In Conclusion

This is a tried and true strategy that countless beginners have used to become very successful in affiliate marketing. Just follow the steps outlined above: research, build your site, and start earning affiliate commissions.

Check out the next post to find out how to build an audience even faster and keep the traffic flowing to your new site. More traffic means more sales, so don’t miss out.

Feel free to post your comment below. An email address is required but it will not be shared with anyone, put on any list, or used for any kind of marketing, just to alert you if there are any replies. Thanks and happy hunting!


Updated: Originally published June 12th 2018

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Carol

    I am so interested in affiliate marketing, and always struggle with choosing a niche. Your explanation is right on point. As I read your post, ideas just came to mind. Even though I have been reading about it for quite a few years now, I never come across an article that explains what I need to do to get sales. This is certainly an eye opener for me. Do you think I can still profit from a popular niche?

    1. Steven

      You can, but keep in mind, your content will have to be top notch. The other thing is you will have to be more patient with high competition niches because it will take longer to get organic traffic.

      Don’t let any of this discourage you though! Working a little harder and being a little more patient can really pay off.

      If you are the creative type, try combining two or more popular niches to make a new, less promoted niche that has the potential to be wildly popular with a specific group.

      For example:

      Travel (high competition)

      Golf (high competition)

      How about travel packages to golf destinations such as Caribbean Islands?

      It might be a silly example for you but hopefully you get the idea… Some very big and profitable ideas have been hatched this way. Pick a few interests and see if you can combine them.

      Hope this helps and thanks for the comment Carol!

  2. Reyhana

    As an affiliate marketer myself, I have to say that I agree with the points you make, especially about putting in the time to achieve success down the road.

    An affiliate marketing business is just like any other business, where it needs time to get known and to grow within the online world.

    The hardest part, is to find the motivation to keep going even if you have had no results for months. I find myself to be unmotivated sometimes on those down days, but what I do is look at others’ progress, their successes.

    My biggest motivation is to know that some people are making over $5000 monthly with affiliate marketing being in this business for 7+ years. What company is going to pay you that amount of money, with that amount of freedom for 7 years of service?

    Unless you are a doctor or a specialist, even a lawyer of some kind but for the average person, nobody would pay us that much, even with promotions.

    1. Steven

      Actually, $5000 monthly is a modest sum for 7 years. It is very realistic to be making 6 figures a year by that time if you do things right. You could be making 7 figures, or more, a year by then if you come up with your own quality product to sell and market it correctly.

      Hang in there, keep learning, provide quality, you’ll get there quicker than you think. Whatever you do, never give up!!!

      Thanks for the comment Reyhana!

  3. Derek Marshall

    Hi there Steven,

    I absolutely loved reading this artice about how to make our first sale online. It actually brought back the memories of my first sale ever…and boy I was a three dollar and 20 cent millionaire! Super excited, jumping around “it works, it works, this sh*t works!”.

    Since then I have surpassed $12k!.

    I do totally agree with one of your fundamental points in finding quality products to promote, it simply makes the job far easier!. I’d also add, if you dont mind me mentioning it, a tip for bloggers and review site owners – don’t be salesy in your reviews be helpful and informative yes, salesy no!.

    That last part ties in very well with selecting top quality products – let the product sell itself! and just help the reader to make an informed decision.

    1. Steven

      Well put! As content marketers, we aren’t salesmen, we are here to help through informative content. This approach builds trust, a rare, fragile and precious commodity.

      Once we have the trust of our audience, we must only recommend top quality products in a transparent manner to maintain that trust. Providing quality information is our job, sales and profit has to come second if we are to succeed and keep a good reputation.

      Thanks for the comment Derek!

  4. justin

    Hey i really enjoyed this article, luckily i did make 3 affiliate sales from one of my sites. But i decided to just focus on one site so i can work on growing that and bringing in the traffic then i will choose a different niche when i am ready. I have been seeing progress with my sites but having 2 is too much to handle right now. It took me a while to finally make my first affiliate sale but now at least i wont get kicked from amazon.

    1. Steven

      I agree that trying to take on more than one site early is burdensome. There is a learning curve you must overcome, gain some experience and learn the business first. Once you get good at running one site and start making a little money, you’ll have the experience and funds to support a second.

      Glad to hear things are taking off for you. The first sale is the hardest, it gets easier from there.

      Thanks for the comment Justin!

  5. Saurav

    Great article! Well, taking the first step does seem pretty difficult and towards the beginning, things might not go as panned. But, with affiliate marketing, one need to have patience. If one chooses wonderful programs and invests time in building a site and works on improving it continuously, the results are sure to be beneficial.

    1. Steven

      Everything in this business gets easier with experience. Don’t be afraid to try, you can always go back and change earlier attempts as you learn.

      Thanks for the input Saurav!

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