5 Things You Need Before You Begin Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is a very popular method used to make money online. The concept is simple: you find a product that someone else has produced and promote it to others for a percentage of the price it is sold for. It seems that everything is in place for you. There are several large marketplaces such as JVZoo, Clickbank and even Amazon for those who want to sell physical products. Within those marketplaces are literally thousands of products on offer in any niche you can think of. In most cases the commissions offered are significant, often 50% or more… I have even seen commission rates of 100% where the product creator has a good sales funnel to follow up the initial sale.

Easy, right? Well, if it were so easy why is it that so many try and fail? Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not knocking affiliate marketing as a valid and viable means of making money online because nothing could be further from the truth. Rather, what I am suggesting is that many, in fact most, would-be affiliate marketers don’t set themselves up for success. I think that before you promote your first product as an affiliate marketer there are five things that you need.

Your Own Website

Of course it is not compulsory to have your own website as an affiliate marketer but I believe that it a very important place to begin. I have a number of reasons for this belief.
Without your own website you cannot build any sort of relationship with your prospects. In fact, as soon as you send them off to the sales page for the product you are promoting them become the product owner’s prospects and not yours. It is the product owner who makes the sale. It is the product owner who adds them to their mailing list and it is the product owner who gets to promote further products to them.

However, having your own website to ‘pre-sell’ the product, perhaps with a review or a personal recommendation, before you send them to the sales page allows you to build the all-important like, know and trust relationship with the prospect. If the product you have chosen to promote is of high quality and matches the needs of your prospects then both you and the product owner win… the product owner for the reasons I outlined above and you, as the affiliate marketer, because you have taken the time to research a suitable product for them making you the hero!

Another reason for having your own website to send your prospects to is that you can get a measure of how successful any given campaign is. It is your website so you can track what happens on it and this in turn allows you to make good business decisions.

Any website that you maintain will contain more than just links to affiliate offers. It will, or at least it should, contain other content making it a valuable resource and not just an advertising platform. This means that your prospects are getting valuable information and content from you and this adds validity to your affiliate recommendations

Website Content

I know I have already alluded to this in the section above but I want to re-enforce what I have already said. When your website is filled with value-added information and content, visitors are likely to come back for more before making further purchases. Your website should contain more information than the sales page. The function of the sales page is to sell a product or service and that is all it is designed to do. Your website on the other hand could provide a lot more information that is all about helping the prospect build their own business for example. In other words, your website is something of a one-stop shop that not only makes recommendations but also educates, which is beyond the scope of a sales page.

While this might seem like a lot of effort to sell a few copies of a product or service the real value is in the strong customer relationship that can develop makes that effort all worth while. By developing trust and confidence with your prospects you make yourself the expert and any recommendations you make come as a recommendation from someone qualified to make it. Your visitors will come to respect and value your opinions on any products or services you promote.

The more effort you put into developing this relationship the more likely it is that your prospects will click on your affiliate links and make a purchase. That’s the point of all the effort… making more sales! Don’t forget that you only need to put the information up once and it is available for as long as you maintain the website. This means that you may well continue making sales long after you have finished actively promoting any given product or service. Surely that is worth a little effort?

Growing Your Mailing List

Without a constant supply of new prospects who trust and believe in you and the products you recommend you business will slowly die. People will unsubscribe from your list for any number of reasons and if you are not growing that list it will simply get smaller and smaller until it just does not provide the return you expect or would like.

On the other hand the more people who are on your list the more opportunity you have of making a sale. If your e-mails convert at 10% by way of example, wouldn’t you rather have 10% of 1000 than 10% of 100? The maths is simple and affiliate marketing is nothing more than a numbers game so the job of growing your mailing list never ends

Valuable Freebies

This point is directly related to the previous section about growing your mailing list. Free gifts or giveaways as effective incentives to attract new prospects but also help keep existing subscribers and visitors. Everyone likes a free gift.

Think about your last trip to your local supermarket. I would be surprised if there was not at least one company there with a display set up offering free samples of their product in an effort to persuade you to buy. If it works in the ‘real’ world you can bet the same principle works as well in the online world as well.

I am always on the look out for good quality and valuable things that I can offer as a freebie to one group or another. You can guarantee that anything I give away will also have my name or e-mail address and certainly my website on it adding a viral element to it as well.

Common types of free giveaways include digital downloads of the latest market or product reports, reviews, videos or an e-book of particular interest to your prospect. You could give away interviews with experts in your niche or plugins or other software to which you have giveaway rights. The point is that by adding value you continue to build trust and you continue to establish yourself as an expert.

Efficient Autoresponder

Again this is related to some of the suggestions I have already made but it is important enough to mention as a separate point as well. I have said often that there are some things that you should never try to save on and your autoresponder is one of them. Don’t mess around looking for the cheapest option… get the best. That’s because your autoresponder is at the very heart of your business. It needs to work well and be 100% reliable.

Many marketers start out with a cheap (or even a free) autoresponder with the thought of moving to a better service in the future ‘when they can afford it’. This is false economy because the moment you try to move your database of e-mail addresses from one autoresponder to another you will have many simply unsubscribe making most of your previous efforts a total waste of time and effort. Start out where you intend to end up. If you want a recommendation go to Aweber!


Once you have these five things in place then, and only then, are you ready to start your career as an affiliate marketer. If you don’t set these up you might make a few sales here and there but those buyers certainly won’t be repeat customers for you and you will end up disappointed and frustrated, possibly to the point of simply giving up. We have all heard the stories of those who have tried and failed but now you have some real information on how not to join them.

Please leave a comment if you would like to add to what I have said and, as always feel free to share this with your own readers.


  • Ryan Biddulph

    Reply Reply November 4, 2017

    Excellent job Donald. This is a helpful read for anybody interested in affiliate marketing. Gotta have your site, share that value and build your list to make things pop. Thanks for the follow on Twitter too.

    Ryan Biddulph recently posted…Episode 31: 5 Tips to Increase Blog TrafficMy Profile

    • Donald Gavin

      Reply Reply November 5, 2017

      Hey Ryan, Thanks for the comment. You are right, it is a simple formula and the real secret is to just get on with doing it… as you say have your site, share value and build your list. BTW thanks for the e-mail… the comment did go to spam so I have been able to rescue it.

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