A lot of people who would like to earn money online with affiliate marketing get stuck at this major obstacle right at the beginning: they don’t know how to create a website for affiliate marketing.
Rest assured, it is not difficult, but there are a lot of steps. When I started affiliate marketing, I did not know either how to build a website, yet alone how to make a website that is ready to earn money.
There are a lot of things that you need to take care of: a small mistake right at the beginning can cost you a lot further down the line, so I am taking you through these vital steps in this post.
As for the technical side, an affiliate marketing website is no different from a regular (non-affiliate) website. What makes it ready to earn is the way it is set up, and the way the content is created with the intention of monetization.
In this post I outline the process of building a website for affiliate marketing using organic traffic from search engines. Affiliate marketing that drives visitors via paid advertising is a completely different matter, and it needs a different strategy. It also needs a much bigger budget to start with, so I don’t recommend that method for beginners to jump right into.
I have broken the process down to these major steps, so you have a better understanding of it. You can click on the headers to jump straight to the detailed explanation of each.
- Choosing a niche
- Research Keywords
- Research Competition
- Building a website for affiliate marketing
- Buying a domain & hosting
- Building a website on WordPress
- Creating a website on other platforms
- Affiliate marketing on free websites
- Creating Content
- Amazon Affiliate websites
How to create a website for affiliate marketing
It may sound a bit surprising but create a website for affiliate marketing does not start with ‘making of’ a website.
Building strong foundation for a website that will become a source of income starts with thorough planning.
Don’t think anything special, but if you don’t plan ahead, you more likely will get lost later on.
Choose your niche
It starts with choosing a niche, or topic for your website. Choosing a niche wisely is crucial for monetising your website later. You should aim for a niche that you already know, and already like. You will be creating content related to this niche for many months to come, so you must like and know your niche enough to be able to write about 60,000 words around it.
Don’t be frightened, it is actually not a lot, you will see that with the strategy that I will show you later, you will easily be able to write 60,000 words and even more.
Size of the niche
It is great if there is something that you are passionate about, but it is equally important if there are other people who are interested in this topic. The more the better, however there are certain niches such as health&fitness, medical, food or money that are not the best niches to start your first website.
Having said that, if you have something that is very unique and special within the niche, ie. you are a great chef with extensive knowledge on thai recipes, then it is probably something that is worth looking into a bit more in depth.
If you have noticed, we already narrowed down the niche from a very generic ‘food’ topic to ‘thai food’. Now this may be still too broad (and you would compete with all the local takeaways and recipe sites). But for example something like ‘how to cook authentic tom yum soup filipino style’ may interest a lot of people who like cooking at home, like thai food, like something different. Google tells us, that people search for it…(a bit later on that)
But anyways, general advice when you select a niche: go for a small one, you can expand later.
Research keywords and competition
And the reason for going small is that the smaller your niche is, the less competition you will have. Again, don’t overthink the research phase. All you need to do is Google your niche.
Think of relevant questions that anyone could ask who is interested in the topic. Write everything down on a piece of paper, or put them in an excel spreadsheet.
The Alphabet Soup Technique
Head to Google and start typing your first question slowly, word by word. Let Google fill in the rest for you. If there is not anything that Google suggests in the search box, then its something that you should probably forget about too. Google suggests certain search phrases based what other people search for. So if nothing comes up, it means that very few people searches for this. Change the search phrase a bit, and try again.
If something comes up, hit the search button and have a look at the search results. How ‘spot on’ are the search results? Do they answer the question? What website are there, big authority websites or smaller blogs that you have never heard of?
Identify The Gaps
Obviously, if the search results don’t answer the question exactly, is a great opportunity for you to do so. If they sort-of do, but there are only smaller websites and only a few bigger names on the first page of the search results, there is a good chance that you could make it to the first page too. If you find big names there, authority sites within your niche (and nothing else) that means, you are probably better of trying another search phrase, it would be difficult to rank with this one.
Whenever you find something that is either ‘underserved’, ‘left unanswered’ or ‘there’s little competition’ then record the search phrase in your notepad.
This whole exercise is about finding out what your audience wants, what they look for, and what it is that they cannot find. Your aim should be making a website that serves one purpose: helping your audience.
When you find 30-40 of relevant search phrases with little competition, you can stop. This will be the core of your website.
I hear you asking, how am I going to monetize these random keyphrases? But don’t worry: these phrases are the key to bring in a lot of organic (=free) traffic. Even if you don’t monetise all of your posts, it will be easy to direct people onto those pages that ARE monetised without coming across as ‘another affiliate site’ or being too desperate to sell something.
On the other hand, if you recommend a product that actually resonates with your audience and resolves a problem that they face, then it is much easier to ‘sell’. You don’t need to push a ‘non-stick wok pan’ off Amazon in every post. It is perfectly enough if you just mention it.
Not that I am into cooking or anything (although I do like thai food), but when I tried this wok pan I was quite amazed. It felt like I AM a chef, this pan was so well balanced, easy to hold and for the first time in my life I did not burn the bamboo sprouts. I am glad I could get this from Amazon for a surprisingly low price.
See what I mean? Or you can refer to your post in which you tested 5 of them that sell the best on Amazon.
Based on the 30-40 search queries that you have found, you should create a list of ‘Hit posts’.
One search phrase = one post.
If you can, maintain a healthy ‘content mix’: 10-13 of posts should be shorter answer posts, that target a very specific questions. 10-13 should be ‘staple posts’ that can be shared on social media, such as 21 Tips of… That You Have Never Heard Of etc. The last third of the posts should be your pillar posts: topics that will likely need 3-4000 words to thoroughly get to the bottom of it.
Do this planning before anything else, and it will be much easier to do the rest.
When I made my first website, I just simply had an idea of a website that I thought would be great, bought a domain and started writing my articles. After 5 posts into it I realised, that I could hardly think of anything else to write about…and it was boring too…
Building out your website
When planning is done, you already have a very good idea of what your website is going to about, what you are going to write about, who is your audience, what interests them. This makes it much easier to build the shell of your website.
Related post: How To Create A Website For Free From Scratch
Buying a domain & hosting
The domain name is your little property in the vast ocean of the world wide web. This is the address. The flag-post. If I said that you should go small when targeting a niche, picking a domain is quite the contrary. You should select a domain name that tells something about the niche you are in, is unique, and that is broad enough to let you expand on the niche later.
Keep in mind that you are building a business for years, and a lot of things can change over the years. If you restrict yourself too much with a domain name that is too specific, you may outgrow it with your content very soon.
Register a Domain name
There are a lot of places where you can search available domain names and find out the yearly fee. Usually, you can expect to pay around $10-$15 a year for a ‘.com’ domain name, but there are some domain registrars who don’t charge for the domain if you store the files of your website with them too (called hosting).
The most popular domain registrars are namecheap.com, HostGator.com or GoDaddy.com; but there are some affiliate marketing training platforms that offer domain registry too with free hosting.
Hosting for $1.25
Hosting normally costs $4-5-$70 or more (but you can find good deals on hosting in the region of $1.25 or so for the first year). For a new website, cheap hosting is perfect. This is something that you can change later, if you need more features. It does not make much difference where you host your website, the only thing you need to decide before buying hosting is what platform you’d like to use.
Although these popular hosting companies are great as long as everything is fine, but they do have a poor reputation of customer service and getting your site back online if something goes wrong.
I must admit I do not have any bad experience with them personally, and some of the bad reviews come from people who – of course – can offer you something else instead.
Free Hosting – My Secret Tip
If you don’t insist on having your website hosted by a well-known hosting provider like the ones I mentioned above, I recommend Wealthy Affiliate’s free hosting.
I am pretty happy with them. Whenever I have any issue (not that I have too many) I just open the support ticket, and they usually respond within 5 minutes.
They either say ‘Try again now’ and everything is in order again, or at least they say they are working on it. The last time I had to contact them was because of an out-of-date PHP version on my website.
I did not even understand what the problem was. But within 15 minutes they moved my site to one of their new servers and the problem was solved.
I am not sure that HostGator would have done the same for me, and within 15 minutes.
You can register with WA for free, and you can host 2 websites on their superfast servers for free.
A domain name costs $15/year flat, if you buy it through WA, but you can link a domain to your website later, even if you have registered it with someone else.
(link to create a free WA account under Resources)
Building a website for affiliate marketing on WordPress
WordPress is the most popular platform for creating websites. It is versatile, highly customizable and cheap. There are plenty of ‘plugins’ that you can use, so you can create anything that you want.
The biggest drawback is its versatility: despite that WordPress is very user-friendly, there are so many features that you literally get lost when you are creating your first website.
One tiny mistake in the settings can affect the performance of your website. Poor performance means less traffic from search engines, less traffic means less money.
You also need a good support from your hosting provider. Like in the example I mentioned above: I probably could have updated the PHP myself, but it would have taken me much longer to figure out what to do, create a backup etc.
So if you choose WordPress, I strongly recommend to choose a hosting provider that has your back. Also, before you start your website, go through this step-by-step tutorial by Kyle from Wealthy Affiliate on how to set up your website for SEO and monetization.
Creating Affiliate Websites on Other Platforms
Alternatively, you can go with one of the bespoke site-builders like Wix or Weebly. Both are great, intuitive, user friendly and you can create beautiful websites with them. But they use their own platform which means that your hands are tied, when it comes to customizing your website.
Also, if you outgrow them, or you realize that you want to host your website somewhere else, it would be really difficult to move away.
For personal blogs and hobby sites they are great, but most affiliate marketers create websites on WordPress.
On the other hand, you will never have to worry about plugins that don’t perform well and slow down your site, plugins that are not compatible with your website, themes that are not supported anymore when you upgrade your WordPress etc.
So, there are pros and cons for both. I suggest you give WordPress a chance, if you follow the training video, you will have your site set up ready to go within 2 hours or so.
If you think that’s too complicated, give Wix or Weebly a go.
Get Your Website Up and Running
Once you have decided on a platform and created an account, you can either buy a domain name as part of the process, or you can link the domain name you have bought elsewhere to the server where the content of your website is hosted.
For example, if you have bought a domain on NameCheap, but you decide to leverage Wealthy Affiliate’s free hosting, all you need to do is to follow the steps in this video on WA’s training platform (I can’t embed it for some reason)
Affiliate Marketing on a Free Website
If you are on a budget, you have the option to start your business on a free domain such as mywebsite.wix.com or mywebsite.siterubix.com etc.
However, it is not recommended for several reasons:
- Having your own domain name gains trust. People visiting your website would more likely trust whatever you have to say to them, which is essential if you recommend a product that you’d like them to buy.
- Some of the platforms with free hosting come with ads (like Wix), that are displayed over your website. If you intend to recommend products, it is not ideal that your visitors can see other ads at the same time.
- Google and other search engines are less likely to trust websites on a free domain. This means that it will be more difficult to rank highly in the search results, which means less traffic from organic search.
- Buying a domain costs $15/year or even less. This is less than a price of a coffee per month. If there is one investment that is worth making, buying a domain certainly is.
- Some affiliate programs won’t accept your application, if you only have a free domain
So technically speaking, you can start affiliate marketing on a sub-domain, but it just adds to the difficulties of starting your online business.
Selecting a Theme
For affiliate marketing the simpler your theme the better. Most of the time a free theme is perfect for the purposes of having a decent layout. You can put a logo on top and start publishing content. What you need to make sure of is that your theme is
- Responsive (works well on mobile devices)
- Fast (site speed is ranking factor)
- Easy to customize
Having these three attributes can take you a long way even on a free theme. I use a theme called ‘Donovan’ on this website, but I have very good experience with ‘Renden’ too.
The final, but most difficult part in creating your affiliate marketing website is that you have to fill it up with helpful, quality content. Whereas building a website is an afternoon project, creating content can take months, depending on the time and effort you are committed to.
An article of 1500 words takes me an hour, maybe a little more to write. (Don’t forget, I have already done the research). Then finding and editing good pictures, uploading it to WordPress, further optimizing for SEO takes another 2-3 hours (this is regardless of the length of the post).
This was not always the case, it took practice to get here. The first 10-15 articles I published took me days each to research, write and optimize – this was before I have adopted Project 24’s method of planning out my content beforehand. So you need to practice writing to become better at it, there’s no way around it.
The sooner you start, the quicker you get there.
But in terms of speed of publishing new content, you should allow yourself a day at least for each article. So it will take 1-2 months at least to create and publish all the posts that you have outlined on your ‘hit list’, even if you work 3-4 hours every single day of the week.
Building an Amazon affiliate website
Amazon Associates – Amazon’s affiliate program is one of the most popular affiliate programs. Beginners like it because it is easy to use and people do buy from Amazon all the time, so it is relatively easy to earn a commission with an Amazon affiliate website.
Why is it special? Because everyone thinks that making an Amazon affiliate website is easy. Well, that’s true if you take the easy way, but the easy way leads to ‘another’ Affiliate site that floods the visitor with affiliate links.
The result is poor user experience: most of the times those sites are just unable to engage with the audience. They can earn commission through the links, don’t get me wrong, but the result will be far worse and far slower to come.
But I tell you a secret.
You can probably earn more and earn it quicker, if you do not place Amazon links on every single page on your website.
Be Smart With Amazon
What makes it difficult is Amazon itself: they would not like you to replicate Amazon. They have all kinds of rules that prevent you from doing this, and if you don’t comply, you can find yourself kicked out of their program very quickly.
You need a different strategy (that you can tap into easily via any of the training programs I recommend – click here for the best affiliate training programs).
If you have created your list of titles as I suggested, you won’t have any problem writing articles, and it will be a piece of cake to recommend some products from Amazon. But place your links strategically.
The Expert’s Best Friend
Do not try to oversell. The best approach to take is if you act like you were the person who knows an expert, rather than trying to establish yourself as an authority in your niche right away, with a new website.
If you don’t think it works, think about how many people you know who brings their uncle (or any relative or friend) with them when they buy a car. Most people simply need a second opinion before they commit to buy, even if it comes from someone who is not necessarily an expert.
Even better if the second opinion comes from someone who does not have any obvious interest in recommending that particular product for you.
Plenty of Ways To Monetize with Affiliate Marketing
If I can give you an advice, do not insist on Amazon Associates alone. There are a lot of other affiliate programs out there. If you recommend two products from two different retailers, you are giving a choice. It won’t reduce your affiliate commissions, and your audience will be very grateful for you for giving an honest advice, rather then pushing the same product for everyone.
Creating a website for affiliate marketing is not much different than how you create any other website. But if you have not built a website before, you may not know where to start. You can go by trial and error, but there is a big chance that the learning curve would be much longer than your patience for getting results.
What distinguishes a successful affiliate marketer from someone who will eventually fail at affiliate marketing is planning. All the rest – website hosting, content management platform – are just minor details, fluff. If you don’t do your planning right, the hosting company you have picked won’t make any difference.
You start by picking a niche and researching it. This way you discover competition, and you also explore what the potential audience is looking for. You will find gaps that you can fill in, and with this exercise you can outline the shape of the content you must create in the coming months to serve that audience.
The technical side of creating a website is an afternoon project, if you follow the step-by-step training I recommended.
In terms of budgeting the overhead costs, the cheapest hosting that exist on the entire internet is Wealthy Affiliate’s free hosting. A domain name costs $10-$15 a year, and you should pick one that will last for years: relevant for the niche, unique, and can become ‘big’ later.
If you have done your research thoroughly, you have a list of titles for blogposts in front of you. There isn’t a nice way to say this: you must work your arse off to create the best, most thorough content around those titles as you can.
Results will come slowly, but they will.
Your website will see more and more organic traffic from search engines, because your content is unbiased, honest and helpful.
Later on, you can start placing affiliate links into posts that are the most popular.
Then place links into other, relevant articles that point to these articles.
Depending on the niche and the work you have put in, within a year you will see 3 figure income through affiliate commissions. And at this point, your website has not even reached it’s full potential yet…Imagine what you could achieve with 60-90-120 posts.
Ready to get started?