How to Start an Affiliate Marketing Business

by | Jan 15, 2022 | Affiliate Marketing

In this article, I am going to discuss how to start your own affiliate marketing business, as well as cover a few basics of affiliate marketing. And, if you’re seriously considering starting an affiliate marketing company, then you can check out some of the other articles I wrote on affiliate marketing, as well as my complete and comprehensive guide to affiliate marketing, that will teach you pretty much everything you need to know about affiliate marketing.

To start with, I want to quickly introduce Sleepy Money. Sleepy Money is a website built around the idea that your money should work for you to make more money. Kind of like making money while you sleep.

Not everyone is dead set on achieving complete financial freedom. I mean, I think most people would like it, a lot of people want it, but I also think a lot of people aren’t willing to do what it takes to achieve it.

Outside of winning the jackpot, financial freedom takes smart ideas, hard work, investment in terms of money and time, persistence, good business management, and of course learning from failures and not giving up.

Unfortunately, a lot of people give up along the way.

At Sleepy Money, we’re not suggesting you give up your day job and jump into the deep end. Rather, we believe that through the smart use of savings and any additional money you earn you can start to make that money work for you to make more money.

I personally know a lot of people whose side-gig quickly grew to be their day job, and from there quickly grew into a company. But Sleepy Money adds even more to it by giving you advice on revenue streams that once up and running will not require a ton of work to keep going. Hence, our advice on things like affiliate marketing, crypto, and so on.

That’s not to say getting your affiliate marketing or crypto business up and running isn’t going to take hard work. It will. But if you can do it simultaneously to your day job it will add up to less grey hairs and once it is rolling, it’s all downhill after that.

So, how do you start an affiliate marketing business?

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Chances are if you are reading this article, you already know what affiliate marketing is. However, just in case, here’s the basic concept: 

Affiliate marketing means you promote someone else’s business services or products in return for a commission. 

affiliate marketing spendToday most affiliate marketing is done online and according to a company called Statista, affiliate marketing not only reached total spending of 8.2 billion dollars last year but it’s also been growing for more than ten years. 

Due to its growing popularity, you will be surprised that most brands, big and small, have affiliate marketing programs available. In other words, most brands you use every single day offer affiliate marketing programs making it even easier for you to start. All you need to do is ask. 

As an affiliate marketer, you will usually get commissions based on sales. Commissions can be a percentage of a sale or a fixed commission per sale. Some affiliate marketing programs offer commissions based on website traffic, and some have other ways of paying you. But every affiliate marketing program offers a great way to start making your own money. 

Two Reasons You Should Start an Affiliate Marketing Business

There are many reasons you should start an affiliate marketing business, and affiliate marketing has many benefits. But from my experience, here are two of the main reasons why you should seriously consider opening an affiliate marketing business:

1. Affiliate marketing is low-risk! 

Imagine what it would take to start your own online store. 

For example, let’s say you wanted to sell a beauty product. Not only is it labor-intensive it’s also costly and the possibility of failure looms over your head daily as you struggle through the first few years. Not to scare you, but according to the SBA, twenty percent of startups fail within the first twelve months, half fail within the first five years, and at the ten-year mark, only thirty-three percent survive. That means 7 out of 10 businesses fail between 5-10 years of opening. 

I’m not saying that your new affiliate marketing business is fail-proof but if it doesn’t work out you’ve not lost much because you don’t need much to start it or keep it going.

2. An affiliate marketing business is easy to scale.

Above we discussed the idea that starting your own business could be time-consuming and expensive. Now imagine what it would take to start five businesses, all at the same time. Now we’re talking millionaire-entrepreneur level, right?  

Well, because of the low-risk aspect of affiliate marketing once you get the hang of it you can easily scale by signing on with multiple affiliate marketing programs and promoting them all at the same time. That’s like having multiple businesses and multiple streams of recurring revenue. 

Let’s say you loved to cook!

You could start by promoting your favorite pans. But once you got that going you could start promoting a brand of cookware, aprons, appliances, you could start promoting just about anything you use to cook with including the store you buy all your ingredients from. The possibilities are literally endless and that’s why many people all around America are starting to make a lot of money with affiliate marketing. 

Alright, enough chatting about the greatness of affiliate marketing, and let’s talk about how to start your own affiliate marketing business. 

Oh, I also wanted to quickly say that if you are still reading this article, I strongly suggest that you check out my article that covers the basics of affiliate marketing. There are a lot of things I discuss in that article that I didn’t cover here. 

How To Start an Affiliate Marketing Business

Starting an affiliate marketing business is pretty simple. The key here is to not think about it too much and to get your feet wet by starting.

To help you get started, I’ve broken it down into a few key steps:

How to Start an Affiliate Marketing Business: The 5-Step Plan of Attack

Starting An Affiliate Marketing Business Step 1: Choose Your Weapon 

The idea of affiliate marketing is to promote a brand, service, or product. So, the first you will need is people who see you or listen to you – an audience. 

Pretty much any platform can be used to build an audience, any social media platform, a blog on medium or a website, or YouTube. None of these platforms require an upfront investment and you start creating content and videos with existing resources such as your computer, phone, and so on. The only thing they will require is a bit of time, since to build an audience will take consistent content creation and interaction. 

A great example of this is a program called BookTube, where people review and promote books on YouTube. 

You may also consider choosing several weapons. For example, you could choose to write blogs, make videos of those blogs, and then post all of it on a social media platform like Twitter. 

If you do not already have an audience, I will give you this beginner tip: do not worry about the quality of your content yet. The key is to start producing content daily, be consistent about it, and use and interact with whatever platform you choose. 

I took a YouTube class from a very famous YouTuber who for the first year turned out 2-3 videos a day and almost gave up because his following was growing very slow. Just before throwing in the towel, he made a video reviewing a MacBook and that video just happened to go viral. His following exploded and it’s been growing ever since. Now pretty much anything he promotes on his channel will make him a decent amount of money.

That’s pretty much how social media and the internet work. You never know at what point a video or a blog will reach millions of people but the common denominator of anyone who has had a viral piece of content was that they consistently turned our content and never gave up.

Starting An Affiliate Marketing Business Step 2: Sharpen Your Blade 

If you’ve been wondering what kind of affiliate marketing business to start you may have had some concerns over competition. By that, I mean the idea that “everyone is already doing that”, or “there are tons of people already all over it”, and so on. 

It’s true, with the internet competition in any field is always uber high. On any given subject you will find people who dominate a platform such as YouTube, social media, blogging, etc. 

So how do you beat it? 

The key is to find where you fit in, which essentially means finding a niche and making it as specific as possible. You will be stunned at how many followers you can build if you really get specific about who you want to target with your content. It’s crazy but it works. 

To start with, do a little bit of competition study. Search through Google, YouTube, and social media to find what people are already talking about and try to find a “hole in the system”. By that I mean, maybe there is a specific aspect of a subject that no one is really covering enough. 

Cooking is a big subject that can be broken down into smaller subjects like grilling, baking, Italian food, etc. But chances are that even those subjects will have competition, they will have less than a “food channel” but they’ll still have some competition. So, get a bit more specific. Maybe start content on the 101 ways to cook amazing steaks on a grill, people probably don’t even know there are more than five ways to grill steak. 

But whatever subject or niche you choose, don’t be scared of competition. No matter what you decide on, there will always be some degree of competition “with more resources that do it better than you”. But here’s the thing, you just need some of the traffic you don’t need all of it. 

If there’s a grilling channel with a million followers, even if you had 50,000 of those it would be enough to start making money with. 

Starting An Affiliate Marketing Business Step 3: Plan the Attack

Now that you’ve got your platforms worked out, and your subject and niche worked out, it’s time to plan the attack – choosing an affiliate marketing program. 

Here you should do some research on affiliate marketing programs offered by brands that offer services or products related to your channel. If you’re going to talk about the 101 ways to grill steak you could choose a grill company, a company that makes grilling tongs and so forth, or even a seasoning/spice company. 

There are three main types of programs you will find: 

  1. Programs that offer high payments for not so much traffic. These programs are usually related to very niched products or services or services or products that cost more money. For example, software that costs thousands of dollars a month may pay you a high commission for sending them clients who sign up, and just a few clients may add up to a nice commission check each month.
  2. Programs that offer smaller payments for a lot of traffic. Here we are dealing with larger programs that you can easily generate traffic for and whose products will usually cost less money. So, you’ll need to generate a lot of traffic to get paid, however generating the traffic is easier because the services and products apply to a much larger group of people. Amazon is a good example of this, Amazon offers a very popular affiliate marketing program where you can earn up to 10% on what people buy. 
  3. There are a few programs that will offer high pay for a lot of traffic. These programs generally apply to most people; however, their profit margins are greater. For example, an affiliate marketing program for credit cards or life insurance.

How do you decide which one to choose?

This will depend on the subject or niche you chose, your experience with that subject or niche, and what programs they offer.

If I love books and you’ve decided to do book reviews on the scariest books alive, then you would most likely choose a low-paying, high-volume program with Amazon or a bookstore. If you work in finance and are very familiar with how the finance field works maybe you would choose a high-paying route through a life insurance company.

Do not get discouraged, the key is getting started and figuring your way through it. Affiliate marketing has the potential to earn you great money no matter what program you choose.

Starting An Affiliate Marketing Business Step 4: “Geronemo!”

Once you sign up with an affiliate marketing program you will get your own dedicated hyperlinks to that brand’s product or services pages or dedicated links to the products themselves. These links will track that any visitors or sales from this link are attributed to you and is how you will get paid.  These are the links you will include in your content and promote. 

Now you are ready to generate content, content, content. 

Make your content as interesting, informative, and helpful as possible. Be consistent, post every day, and interact with the platforms you choose. 

Do not make your content all about sales. No one wants to follow content that feels like a used car commercial. 

The best way to get a lot of followers is to generate content that helps people, that answers their questions, or gives them new abilities, such as the grilling example we made. You can drop a quick line about the products you promote but never let the content be about that. Make it about the viewer and make sure that you are providing useful content. 

If you are new to content creation the idea can be a bit overwhelming. Maybe you are an incredibly creative person or maybe you’re not. But either way, let me give you this amazing tip that will help you generate content like nobody’s business: 

It’s absolutely alright to copy someone else’s ideas when generating content. Everybody does it!

If you have spent any time on TikTok you will see that there are thousands of people doing the same dance, to the same song. They are all copying each other. Something goes viral and everyone starts to do it. There is nothing to be ashamed of! 

I’m not telling you to start dancing on TikTok, unless you feel that has something to do with your niche. But I am saying that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Look at your competitors, get ideas from what they are doing, copy them and try to do it in your own way or maybe better than them. 

Starting An Affiliate Marketing Business Step 5: Drive The Stake Home  

Alright, so let’s take a quick step back and see what we’ve got so far. 

You’ve chosen the platform you will use to promote the product, you’ve chosen the product and niche, you’ve found the right affiliate program and signed up, and you’ve started to generate daily content. 

What now? Does money start to pour in the door? Not yet. 

Now you need to drive people to your content. Your content needs viewers. The more viewers it has the more clicks you’ll get on your specific hyperlink. 

So, the big question is, how do you drive traffic to your content which in turn drives traffic to the brand, product, or service you are promoting. 

There are several main strategies to consider: 

Paid Traffic 

All platforms, including Google, YouTube, and social media offer a way to pay to have your content viewed or clicked on by people not directly following you. This is called “PPC” or Pay Per Click. 

In its simplicity, you set an audience, you select keywords you want to show up for, you select a daily or monthly budget, and make a post or ad that promotes your content. 

These platforms will then display that ad or content and you will charge you every time that someone clicks on that ad and lands on your blog or video. 

If you are running paid traffic, you may also want to research the idea of a landing page to try and get visitors to convert into sales. 

However, there is a downside to this, if you are not familiar with or have not learned how to run ads it can result in wasted funds. So before jumping into it, do some research or take a class on how to run ads. 

Search Engine Optimization 

When you search for something in Google, there are potentially millions if not tens of millions of websites and articles that show up as results. However, most people never look behind the first or perhaps the second page of Google. 

So how does Google decide what to display first? How do they decide what website or article will show up on that first page that everyone looks through as opposed to page 14,356 where no one will ever see?

Well, the entire subject of getting your content or your website showing up on that first page of Google is called “search engine optimization” or often “SEO”.

While I will not get into all the concepts behind SEO, I will say that it takes a bit of time to get good search results. It’s not an overnight wham-bam. 

I do happen to know. a company called Key Marketing Strategies, that can help you reach the top of Google. Should you want to find out more about SEO and how it works I highly suggest giving them a call. 

Build an Email List 

No matter how you drive traffic to your content or to the product or service you are promoting the chances are not everyone will buy. 

How many times have you gone to a website, checked it out, and left without scheduling an appointment or buying a product?

Because the internet offers so many options, people are very used to browsing, checking things out, and finding better prices. 

So how do you capture their attention? 

Well, you can build an e-mail list. There are many ways to build an e-mail list but one of the most popular ones is to offer something in exchange for the person’s name and e-mail. 

If you’re promoting a beauty product you may want to offer a free PDF that teaches people, the five best ways to apply lipstick. To download this PDF or e-book people will need to enter their name and e-mail.

You now have their e-mail and can send them a weekly or monthly newsletter that promotes your helpful and useful content. Again, don’t make it all about sales, but rather stuff they would be happy to read and learn from. Then, within that content you’ll find ways to fit in your product or brand and promote your link. 


No affiliate marketing wheels were reinvented here. These are the fundamentals and applying them will get you off on the right foot.

Just don’t expect life-changing income or the freedom to quit your 9–5 overnight. Affiliate marketing takes time.

Focus first on making your first affiliate sale. As your site grows, set new goals, and continue experimenting.

This is how to build up a site that eventually generates a decent income.

Penny Millions
Editor, Sleepy Money
(570) 903-8960