It’s no secret that Affiliate Marketing is a massive industry.
You’ve probably seen all the ads, spam & YouTube videos promoting “earning money at home” or “earning x amount a day with no experience”. Most of these are pushing a form of Affiliate Marketing.
Some of these are scams, of course. You should be very wary of parting with cash to some guy who says he makes over $1M a month. If you were making that kind of money would you be on YouTube trying to drum up $19.99?
Maybe, I suppose.
Some of them are legitimately just trying to get you to sign up to their affiliate network. The idea being that if you make money, they make money. If you don’t then it’s cost them nothing.
As is probably obvious by this website, I am signed up to affiliate programs promoting Casino websites and Sports betting sites.
I have by no means made a fortune from doing this (but I can always dream). But I know a lot of people are thinking of getting into this field, so I thought I’d share my thoughts (for free) on my experiences and what I’ve learned about it.
In this article I’ll talk about:
The Basics of Affiliate Marketing
Before we get into the steps, let’s start with the real basics.
Affiliate Marketing is where you have a blog, website, YouTube channel or social media accounts which promote other companies’ products and services.
You can promote them directly by writing (or doing videos) about the products directly, or by writing related articles and simply featuring links or banner ads to the site, where your reader can buy relevant product.
You get these links or banners either directly from the company selling the product or from an Affiliate Network, who have a deal with lots of different companies.
When one of your readers (or video viewers) signs up to a service or purchases a product using one of your links – you get a fee. Usually a small one, depending on the cost of the purchase.
The Affiliate network (if you use one), get a percentage of whatever you make. Multiply that over potentially thousands of affiliates and they can make a lot of money. But so, can you.
I hope I explained that well enough.
Like an increasing number of people today, I had heard of Affiliate Marketing, but I had my doubts about it. Especially as a lot of the videos and articles I read seemed to be promising untold riches for zero effort – always a warning sign.
But, I knew a guy who was starting a website with affiliate links to a company selling Home Furnishings.
He worked in the same office as me and I remember him talking about it when he was setting it up. As the months went by I would sometimes ask him about it. He didn’t seem very happy at first. He wasn’t making much of anything from it.
Then about 2 years after he started it he suddenly resigned. When I asked him if he had a new job he told me that he was now making more from his affiliate site than he was from his wages.
He was basically retiring from the 9-5 rat race to be his own boss and work from home.
He was about 25 years old.
I was incredibly jealous as you can imagine. And I vowed to look more closely into it.
I scoured the internet for advice and once I had filtered out all the scam-artists, I found the same simple advice popping up again and again. And it echoed what my ex-colleague had told me about his experiences.
So, these are the steps I will set out including my own experiences and recommendations.
Step 1 – Pick a subject area.
The first step to becoming an affiliate marketer is to decide what type of products you will promote on your site. You could do lots of research into popular topics, but my advice is simple – pick something you are genuinely interested in.
The reason for this is, like my colleague, you will need to write (or make videos) on a subject for quite a while with zero return at first. Lots of people who start out to be Affiliate Marketers just give up after the first few articles/blogs.
One online guru says you need to write at least 30 articles on a subject to have a hope of getting any of them seen by anyone. And even then, it can take 12 months or more for that to start happening.
So, you can imagine if you sit down in an evening to write an article about fishing (for example) for your Blog on fishing, it might be difficult if you have no interest in fishing. Especially if your blog isn’t generating any money for you at this time.
Unfortunately, you can’t write all the content after your blog is popular. It doesn’t work like that.
So, looking at my hobbies, I decided that I would create a website about gambling. Not, this one – another attempt.
Step 2 – Get your site up and running.
The second step is to get your blog, site, channel or social media page up and running.
At that time (a few years back), I knew next to zero about websites, search engines, SEO, marketing etc – but I decided to give it a go anyway.
There are a load of hosting companies where you can have your website hosted and free templates to help you set them up if you have no technical skills. You can get free blog sites and, of course, social media accounts tend to be free too.
I spent quite a while getting my first site up and running. Mainly because I had no idea what I was doing and because I was doing it part-time – in the evenings and at weekends.
But I got there eventually.
Step 3 – Produce Quality Content
The third step is to write or produce content. This is where you have to put the work in.
Write articles, reviews, how-to-guides – whatever suits your subject matter. I wrote reviews of Casinos and games and some articles answering Frequently Asked Questions about betting online.
As a general guideline you want the articles to be fairly well-written (but you don’t need to be GRR Martin) and you want them to be fairly long. I’ve seen people suggest you aim for about 2000 words, but you should certainly go for over 1000.
People generally think that visitors to their page want a short-concise article. This might be true but when it comes to ranking on search engines like Google, they value the amount of content.
They also like the amount of time people spend on your page which means length is good for that too. So are videos and other things to keep your viewers interested.
I’m not going to go into Search Engine Optimisation in this article as it’s just too big a topic. But most website or blog templates are set up in a way that they do most of the important things for you. And there is plenty of online content on tweaking your site to help it get found.
But without the content all that other stuff is a waste of time.
So, get writing.
Step 4 – Sign Up to Affiliate Programs
Once I had my site up and running and a dozen or so articles written I started to look for companies that I could be an Affiliate for.
You could try joining affiliate programs before you write any content, but I found, in general, that they want to see your site before they let you join up.
A lot of the time when I applied for an Affiliate Program directly with a company I was told that my site didn’t meet their “requirements” of an affiliate. Some wouldn’t enter in to any dialogue about it, but a few actually gave me some helpful advice on how to get it “up to scratch”.
I found affiliate networks, which give you access to lots of companies, much easier to join. Although they don’t give you as good a deal as you’d get from the company directly (they need to make money too), it is better than nothing.
I’ll link some of the affiliate programs I joined up with at first, below.
The main question within the Gambling Affiliate industry is “should I sign up for CPA or Revenue Share deals”?
Basically, CPA is Cost Per Acquisition. When a customer signs up to a Betting Site from one of your links and spends the minimum amount, you get a one-off fee.
Revenue Share is where you get a percentage of the betting sites profit from the customer. So, if the customer spends £40, you might get £10 (depending on the deal you have).
Some companies offer a “hybrid” deal which is a small CPA fee and then a small Revenue Share.
I saw a lot of people arguing about which is best. Really, it comes down to personal preference.
The fact of the matter is, that if a customer signs up to a Casino, spends £20 and then never goes back – you would have been better off with the CPA. If they go back regularly and spend £100’s every month, you will be kicking yourself if you didn’t take the Revenue Share.
Some Companies will only offer you one deal anyway, which takes away the hassle of choosing. But the ones that offer CPA, Rev Share and Hybrid deals will let you switch between them too. So, you aren’t tied into any one deal.
I wouldn’t worry about it at first. You need to actually have people signing up from your site before you get bogged down in that.
Step 5 – Get your Affiliate links onto your pages
So now you need to get the affiliate links onto your articles and put the banner ads on your site.
You may think that you just plaster the links into every second word on your site and stick 100 banners on every page. But not only does this not look particularly good, it gives a poor user experience (we have all seen these spammy sites).
And Google prefers sites with a good user experience (UX they call it).
I experimented a lot and found that if you put the links in “organically” – where they seem natural – then people are more likely to click on them. And if you have banners placed sparingly they are more likely to click them too.
Also, I found that animated banners do better than static ones. Must be because the movement catches the eye more.
I’m sure you have been on sites where there are a dozen pop-up ads and annoying videos (which always seem to have the loudest volume). I bet you didn’t stay on the sites too long never mind buy anything through them.
Step 6 – Write More Content
Now you have your Affiliate Links and Banners you need to write even more articles. Blog even more and make even more videos.
When I reached this point, I knew that every visitor was now a potential customer. I had more motivation to work. And I found it much easier.
This is where being interested in the subject really counts. It can keep you going when you are feeling lazy.
Step 7 – Wait
Yes, as I mentioned earlier in this article, the key to your success (apart from the above steps) is patience. It takes a while for a new blog, website or YouTube channel to get found by people.
Even social media accounts take a while to build up an audience.
How long you need to wait isn’t an exact science. There are a lot of variables.
How saturated is the market for example? Markets like Gambling, Photography, Recipes, Make Up and Personal Finance are very saturated.
More competition means a slower rise up the website rankings and less chance of rising at all.
And Google likes sites that have been around for a while and are regularly updated. So, your brand new site is not going to get a good ranking at first.
While you wait to get found on Search Engines you can utilise things like Social Media to try and get your site some regular traffic.
You should have a way for people to sign-up to your site. Whether its for notifications or a regular update (like a newsletter). It’s a good way to get an audience straight away for new articles but it is also something that takes a long time to build up.
Step 8 – Have Realistic Expectations
I didn’t earn a single penny from my first site for 6 months. And when I did it was about £10.
You would think I’d have been disappointed but actually I was pleased. I could see that, very slowly, people were finding my site. Clicking my links and eventually buying from it.
The following month I made over £100 and by then end of the first year I was making a few hundred.
Considering at that point I wasn’t spending much time on it (I was writing an article about once a week), I was pleased with this.
After almost exactly two years (the same as my ex-colleague) I was earning more than my 40 hours-a-week job was paying me. So I quit.
I’m a few years down the line and I’ve made a couple of new sites in that time (this is one).
They haven’t all been as successful as I would have liked but it is early days for them really.
I’m not rich by any stretch of the imagination, but I am making a good living from being a Gambling Affiliate and the job is very part-time.
I can’t imagine working in an office ever again. I consider myself semi-retired.
Anyway, I hope you have found these steps interesting. As I said, it’s a mixture of my own experiences and some good advice I found online that worked for me.
Of course, there are no guarantees that you will find success being an Affiliate Marketer. And two years can seem like a long time.
But if you don’t try it and you get to two years down the line. You will be left thinking “What If?”
Even if that is the case – it’s never too late to start.
Affiliate Program Links
If I haven’t put you off being a Gambling Affiliate, then here is a list of Gambling Affiliate programs that may take people who are just starting out.
As I mentioned, they may want to see your site or blog and they will probably have some standard things that they need you to do before accepting you.
Common in the Gambling field in the UK is an “18+” banner and a link to gambleaware.org.
You should bend over backwards to keep them happy. Remember, you need them to have any chance of making money.
William Hill – A well-known brand in the UK who offer bets in many other countries.
Affiliate Edge – An affiliate network offering a range of Casinos mainly serving the US market
Deck Media – Another big US network who accept new affiliates.
EGO Gaming – A network of Casinos covering the UK and most of Europe. Includes the popular PlayOjo Casino.
NETPlay – Affiliate programs for Supercasino and Jackpot 24/7
Gambling Affiliation – An affiliate network with access to dozens of Casinos covering many countries. A bit more difficult to join but helpful.
888 Affiliates – Affiliates for the very popular 888 brand.