I’ve talked quite a bit about my first side project, but now it’s time to peel back the curtain just a little bit. Having just built my new affiliate site in the last two months, I’ve already put in all the hard work and now I’m in the beginning stages of making passive income. In a previous blog post, I mentioned how I’ve already made $5.10. A few days later, I already made $17.27 and I haven’t done any more work! This is the beauty of passive income, but as I said, it’s just the beginning.
So How Do I Build an Affiliate Website?
I was afraid you’d never ask! In this introductory blog post, I will take you step by step using the same process I use to select a niche, purchase the right domain name and hosting, setup WordPress, brainstorm ideas, select products, and get set up with an affiliate account to start earning money.
Later on, I will discuss ways to promote your site and improve your search engine rankings.
Be forewarned, this series of posts is directed at beginners with little knowledge of how to build affiliate sites. In the future, I will dive deeper into each step of the process, giving in depth instructions, more advanced tips and tricks, as well as product recommendations along the way.
Step 1: Select a Niche
First things first, refer to the niche idea list you came up with from my previous post “The Fastest Way to Make Money Online.” Pick one of the skills or passions from this list that you’d like to focus on first. Remember, for now, it should be something you are truly excited about so that you don’t lose interest too quickly.
Have you made your decision?
Congratulations! You now have your very first niche! Pat yourself on the back. A lot of people never even make it this far. Choosing how you want to make money online is one of the most difficult steps, especially if you are easily overwhelmed by too many choices.
Step 2: Purchase Your Domain Name and Hosting
The next step, while simple, seems to confuse a lot of beginners. No need to fear, a simple answer is here!
To build a website on the internet, you need a domain name, and a place to host your domain. To clear things up, I’ll give you a brief overview of each:
- Your domain name is your address on the internet. For example, my domain name is PassiveDreamer.com. In order to build a site online, you must first purchase a domain name. There are many websites where you can do this, but I prefer to get a free domain name with my hosting.
- If the domain is your address, then hosting is your house. In order to serve content on the internet, you need a web server to host your html documents or WordPress website. There are many options when it comes to online hosting, but for a simple blog or an affiliate website I highly recommend SiteGround.With SiteGround, you get a free domain name and hosting for only $3.95 a month for one website using their StartUp plan. They also have a GrowBig plan that allows you to host with multiple domains but I don’t recommend that at this early stage because you should be 100% laser focused on this one niche site… for now.
Before you run off and buy yourself a domain name, you are going to want to spend some time coming up with a good one. In addition, you will want to choose a TLD (Top Level Domain) that will get you the most traffic.
- A TLD is the part after your domain name such as .com, .net, .org, .edu, .io, .co, etc. As of this writing, there are 100s of top level domains but I HIGHLY suggest you stick with .com at all times.
The reason for sticking with .com is simple. Most people assume that a domain ends in .com and 9 times out of 10, people will type .com when entering a name online. So if you’re wondering “Should I buy a .com domain?” The answer from me will always be YES!
For example, I recently told my sister to go to domain.is and I watched her type in domain.com. When I corrected her, she said “Oh” and went to domain.is.com which is still wrong. This really drove home my persistence for sticking with .com names, simply so I don’t lose traffic to people who always assume .com, and there are many people like this!
Now that we’ve settled on a .com TLD, we need to make sure our name meets the following criteria:
Here’s a quick list of characteristics of good domain names:
- Easy to Remember
Lets face it, most people have a short attention span and will have a difficult time remembering a name. Try to choose words that are easy to remember and not overly complicated.
The longer your domain name, the more difficult it is for people to remember and type into their address bar. Stick to one or two words and keep it simple.
- Easy to Spell
I can’t stress this one enough. Imagine that you are verbally telling people your domain name. You shouldn’t have to spell it to them or say, “that’s with a k instead of a c”, or anything like that. Unfortunately for me, I have to say Mike Milez with a ‘z’ but that’s the unfortunate part of having an uncommon spelling.Before you buy your domain, tell a few people the name and ask them to spell it back. If 10 out of 10 people can’t spell it back exactly as it sounds, then you will lose out on potential customers.
- Relates to Your Niche
If your blog is about saltwater aquariums, don’t choose awesomestuff.com as your domain name. If possible, buy saltwateraquariums.com.
- Does Not Contain Numbers or Dashes
Please don’t settle for a name with a hyphen or number in it. This will add confusion and cause you to lose out on potential traffic. If you choose saltwater-aquariums.com, most people will just end up going to saltwateraquariums.com.In addition, numbers add another layer of complexity you don’t need. “Do you type the number or spell it?” See what I mean?
Once you come up with a good domain name that you feel confident about, head over to SiteGround and sing up for the one year StartUp plan. This will save you 60% off the regular price of $9.99 if you pay monthly.
Step 3: Install and Configure WordPress
If you signed up for a free domain and $3.95 per month hosting with SiteGround, you also get the added benefit of a super quick and easy WordPress installation!
To see how easy it is, click on the “Go to cPanel” button in your “My Accounts” tab:
Next, click on “WordPress” in the AUTOINSTALLERS section your cPanel:
Once you click WordPress, you will see an overview. Click on the “Install” tab highlighted in blue.
On the “Install” tab, leave all of the default settings with the exception of “Admin Username” and “Admin Password”. You are going to want to pick a name that is easy for you to remember, but not too easy for someone to guess. In addition, you should choose a very strong password.
Click the “Install” button at the bottom of the page and within minutes, your WordPress site is installed and live on the web! To test, open up a new tab and browse to your domain name. You will see the default installation and template which you can change from your WordPress admin panel located at:
Log in using the admin username and password you setup during the installation.
I could go into a whole 10 page article about how to configure and use WordPress, but at this point in time, it’s best left to others who have already created helpful content. You can always head over to Udemy and find a free or paid course.
Step 4: Brainstorm Ideas
Now that you’ve got your niche, domain name, hosting, and WordPress, it’s time to brainstorm ideas for blog posts.
To keep track of all of my ideas and work-in-progress for my blog and eBooks, I use a program called Scrivener. It’s an exceptional program used by thousands of professional writers and bloggers all over the world.
For now, you don’t have to worry too much about finding the right software. You can stick with pen and paper, Microsoft Word, Apple Pages, or whatever else helps you to get your thoughts written down.
Before you build your own audience, you will have to think outside the box to determine what your future audience will want to hear. The quickest way to come up with these topics is to find out where your target market likes to hang out, and discover what they want to know.
For example, lets say your niche is saltwater aquariums.
- First, try to find some forums where people interested in saltwater aquariums might hang out. To do this, go to google and search for the following: (exactly as shown)
- forum:saltwater aquariums
You will get results from numerous forums related to saltwater aquariums. The best part is, google orders the results based on numerous factors so you know that the higher the site is in the results, the more of an active community is involved.
- Next, join each of these forums and get involved with the conversations. You don’t necessarily need to do this to discover topics for your blog, but you do need to do this to establish yourself within the community. For now, try to establish yourself as someone who is knowledgable on the topic.If you followed my previous advice about selecting a niche, you should know enough information to contribute to the discussion. In the future, you will use this authority to promote your site and your products.
Now, to find content for your blog, search the forum for users asking questions. Knowing what people are asking will give you the ability to write out a thoughtful answer in the form of a blog post on your site – making sure to use the questions in your titles for SEO purposes.
Here is a list of terms to search for within the forums:
- “How do I”
- “Can someone tell me”
- “What happens if”
- “Where can I”
- “Advice About”
- “I have a question”
- “I hate”
- “My favorite”
- “I can’t find”
- “Can anyone help me”
As you can see, there are a lot of possible search phrases that can help you to create content for your site. This is not an exhaustive list by any means, so take some time to discover terms that will benefit you and your niche.
- After picking a post or question that you have an answer to, take the time to write a blog post about it. Make sure to use your knowledge as well as doing some research to fully answer the question. When you are done, and have published your answer, you can return to the forum and post a reply saying something like “The quick answer is … but if you’d like an in depth answer, check out my blog post here.”Doing this will give the person the answer they want to hear and a mental association with you and your website as knowledgeable and helpful. In the future, they may return to your site before asking questions in the forum.Even better yet, eventually when people google this question, your answer will show up in the top of the search results!
Step 5: Promote the Right Products
Besides providing valuable content to your readers, the purpose of your affiliate niche site is to earn you some passive income. In order to do this, you have to advertise, sell a product that you’ve created, or a product that someone else has created. Since we are focusing on affiliate sites at this time, you will promote products that others have created.
One of the best affiliate programs on the internet is the Amazon Affiliate Program. However, they may not allow you to join if you have no content on your website, so it’s best to get at least 5 to 10 pages of content before applying. Refer back to some of the blog post ideas you generated in the previous step and start writing with selling products in mind.
Throughout your post, you can recommend products that are related to the topic and link them to Amazon. Once you are approved for the affiliate program, you can go back through and change these to affiliate links so you will start earning passive income from any sales made through your link. This includes any items purchased on Amazon using your link within 24 hours of the person clicking it.
For example, if you are recommending a specific type of saltwater aquarium accessory, and a user clicks through to Amazon using your link, you will get a commission if that product sells. If they click through your link, but buy something else, guess what? You also get a commission on that product!
With that in mind, don’t fill up your blog with only the most expensive items. A click through on a $2 item could still net you a huge commission if that user buys a $3,000 TV!
I suggest you only promote items you can personally stand behind. I try to make sure that any product I recommend has tons of 5-star reviews and very few one star reviews. The last thing you want to do is recommend a horrible product. You will lose trust with your readers and kill your brand before it has a chance to grow.
Step 6: SEO Your Blog Post Titles
In the beginning, you will not receive very much organic traffic from Google to your website. This is because Google has a ranking system and puts only the best content at the top of search results.
For a while, you will have to rely solely on your own promotion of through forum posts, Facebook posts, paid advertising, etc. Over time, as your site grows in content and authority, you will start to get more organic search engine traffic.
However, it’s important to think ahead about search engine optimization, otherwise known as SEO. There are a million different “How to SEO” guides out there, but I recommend MOZ’s Guide to SEO which is free and very informative!
If you read this, you are miles ahead of many of your competitors, as well as people who follow inaccurate advice online.
Aside from this basic knowledge, you will eventually want to start using tools to help you find the proper keywords to use as well as investigate your competition and outperform them. The top two products currently available, and used by almost everyone in the SEO game are Market Samurai and Long Tail Pro.
I personally use both of these in conjunction to fine tune my target keywords on the web. In the future, I plan on creating detailed blog posts explaining how I use each piece of software to increase my organic search traffic. In the meantime, feel free to download a free trial of Market Samurai to test the waters.
P.S. If you register for the free trial of Market Samurai, you will get a coupon in the first email that will save you $52. But don’t tell anyone else. That’s our little secret.
Now That You Know How to Build an Affiliate Site, What’s Next?
Hopefully this crash course on how to build an affiliate site has given you, at the very least, an overview of the process involved. Remember, this is a birds eye view of the process and throughout the course of this blog I will dive deep into every nook and cranny.
If there’s anything that was confusing, or something I did not cover, please drop me a comment and I’ll do my best to include the information or create a new blog post to assist you.
As my 8th post on this site, I can definitely say this one took the longest to write thus far. Sure, I could’ve made it much shorter, or even much longer, so hopefully it’s the right balance to meet everyone somewhere in the middle.
Until next time, take action!
Find your niche. Purchase your domain. Set up your WordPress site. Build yourself authority in relevant forums. Set up your Amazon affiliate account. But most importantly, start diverting some traffic to your blog through knowledgeable and topic oriented posts online.
Remember, no one likes a spammer, so please don’t just go around posting your site everywhere humanly possible. In addition, do not buy any services that promise to promote your site or blast them across the internet. This will hurt your SEO, but if you read the MOZ guide, you would already know that.
Thanks again, and see you soon.