Sounds crazy, right?
Well it’s true.
But I do agree with you because it feels weird just writing about it.
Still, it’s as real as the amount of people selling their souls for jobs they hate.
And since you’re here, it means you probably want to know how I did it and if you can do it too – perhaps to escape a dead-end job or make some money.
Does that sound about right?
Okay. Then sit back, relax, and let me share my secrets with you.
The Back Story
Once upon a time, I came across an article about a gal who started an affiliate website and grew it to $92,500 in a year, all by herself.
The figure itself was cool but that’s not what impressed me.
What got my spidey-senses tingling was the fact that she was a single mom working in a salon with no technical experience whatsoever.
I was like… “damn, if she can pull that off, why can’t I?”
So I read her story (kinda like what you’re doing here), to see how I could replicate her success.
You see, when it comes to business ideas, everyone’s always looking for the next big thing. That’s great if you’re a super genius or have access to angel investors, which I totally support.
However, if you’re just a normal person like me with zero investors, then your options are extremely limited.
So instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, it’s easier to take what’s working, apply your own twist to it, and turn it into a profitable masterpiece.
And that’s exactly what I did.
I stole her formula (like great artists do) and refined it to suit my tastes. And in less than a year, I managed to create a steady stream of income from scratch.
Now before you hit me with your excuses let me say this…
I didn’t have a technical background, a ton of money, lots of free time, a lucky leprechaun, or whatever. I just told myself I was going to succeed no matter what.
Instead of letting fear or excuses hold me back, I invested the time to learn how to start a blog using WordPress.
So if you think you need to be an expert or have any special advantages to do this… think again!
I may be able to create a website, but I’m no expert. I learned just enough to get started and continued learning as I grew.
Even today I’m still learning and making mistakes, but I’m having fun – and making money doing it.
The point I’m trying to make is…
I believe that it’s 100% possible for beginners to do this. You just need a desire to learn and the commitment to apply what you learn.
It’s also worth mentioning that this wasn’t some “get-rich” scheme. It required work, patience, and diligence.
I’m also not some guru blowing smoke up your ass. I’m in the trenches every day, and I’m happy to be sharing what I did so you can learn from it.
Hopefully, my story will inspire you to create an affiliate website of your own.
But let’s start with the basics first…
What is an Affiliate Website?
An affiliate website is a type of site you create to sell other people’s products in exchange for a commission.
Let’s say you build a website that talks about yoga for new moms and you write an article about yoga mats.
If a visitor clicks on one of the yoga mats and purchases it, you’ll get a commission from either the owner of the mat or an affiliate network.
For my site, I used an affiliate network called Amazon Associates Program.
It’s free to join and you can find out more about it here.
Now that you have an idea about that, let’s move on.
A 5-Step Plan for Starting an Affiliate Website
Getting started isn’t all that challenging. I personally think it’s the easy part, as long as you have a plan of action.
Here’s what I did:
- Got a sheet of paper and did a brain dump to find a niche
- Conducted a profitability analysis
- Bought hosting, got a free domain, and built the site
- Outlined a content creation strategy
- Made a game-plan for traffic and marketing
It may sound cliché but the whole planning thing really does work.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed, procrastinate, or veer off course without a solid plan.
And believe me, from what I’ve seen, it happens to a lot of people who end up quitting.
But the good news is, if you follow the 5 steps, you can avoid a similar fate.
Now let’s take a closer look at each step.
Step 1: Brainstorming Ideas
I started by writing down a bunch of interests and industries to find a niche. The goal was to find something that I was curious about but had no experience with.
You’re probably wondering why I didn’t just pick something I love or have knowledge about. Well there’s a reason for that…
Have you ever asked an expert to explain something to you?
Chances are their response would’ve been filled with jargon. Because most experts assume that we have an above average idea of what they’re talking about, which usually isn’t the case.
So by choosing an interesting niche I knew nothing about, I’d be able to learn something new and could offer a fresh perspective on things.
It would also give me a better understanding of what people in the niche want. And once I had that knowledge, I could create amazing content for that specific audience.
There is one caveat though… unless you’re a certified professional you probably don’t want to be in niches like law, taxes, etc.
Leave those to the people who are qualified to talk about them.
Choosing A Niche
I chose the “Health & Beauty” niche because, as you know, people will never stop spending money to look good and feel great.
The niche also has thousands, if not millions, of products that I could happily market to hungry, self-conscious buyers.
However, the key strategy is to focus on a specific target audience of buyers.
Obviously, targeting an entire niche makes zero sense. You won’t have the kind of resources to stand against companies with big budgets.
And before you ask, here’s an example of targeting an audience:
It’s just a basic example. But ideally, your brain dump should give you a ton of interests to choose from.
Using the wedding example, you could build a website reviewing off-the-map, secluded destinations for couples.
You could talk about the location, things to do, which rooms have the best views, food, service, etc.
You could call it HoneymoonScout.com and monetize your site by being an affiliate for travel and booking companies.
And you could even make money by selling guides, curated itineraries, or online ad space to the best hotels and resorts.
Holy Excuse-buster Batman!!!
You just got a free breakdown of a very lucrative niche as well as a freakin’ cool brand name. What more could you possibly want?
I’m actually interested to see if anyone does this.
In fact, if you decide to steal this idea and profit from it, please let us know. That would be one heck of an inspirational story for all the doubters and procrastinators out there.
Note: It’s likely someone will register HoneymoonScout.com either after reading this or by conceiving it in the future. If that happens, just use your imagination to think of another name.
Alright, let’s move on to the next phase.
Step 2: Profitability Analysis
As I said before, consumers spend billions a year on their personal appearance.
So I already knew that this niche was profitable. Now I just needed to figure out the best way to get a slice of the pie.
After researching a bunch of monetization options, I settled on the Amazon Associates Program.
Well for starters, it’s simple and free. It also gave me access to millions of products I could write about and earn affiliate commissions from.
It was perfect because my plan was to create an affiliate website that reviewed products for a specific audience.
That’s pretty much all the research I needed. The only thing left to do was to start grinding.
And on that note, the next steps will be about action and execution. So keep reading young Padawan.
Step 3: Website Setup
Let’s face it, your domain name will pretty much become your brand name. So you want it to be a good one.
I’m sure you’ll agree that HoneymoonScout.com sounds memorable, easy to spell, and is brandable.
Whereas something like BestHoneymoonTripsForCouples.com sounds stupid and is far from being brand-worthy.
You should always try to keep your name smart and simple.
As for the domain extension, I chose “.com” because that’s what most people are familiar with. However, you can choose whatever works for you.
When it comes to hosting providers, there’s a bunch you can choose from.
I decided to go with Bluehost because it was affordable and I got to register my domain name for free. If you’re looking to save, I strongly recommend using them.
In total, I paid $71.28 to get started and not a penny more. It actually made my frugal self quite proud.
Note: I didn’t spend another dime until my website started earning money.
Building Your Affiliate Website
You’ve probably heard about WordPress at some point in your Internet life.
If not, it’s a content management system (CMS) that’s used by over 27% of the web. That includes websites for Beyoncé, Vogue, Mercedes-Benz, The Rolling Stones, and more.
BTW, just to be clear, we’re talking about WordPress.org not WordPress.com.
A major difference between the two is who’s hosting your website.
And since you’ll be getting your own hosting, WordPress.org is the one you’ll be using. It’s free to install plus the level of simplicity and customizability is off the chain.
Speaking of customizability, you’re probably going to wonder what theme to use.
Themes are basically templates that you use to modify the layout of websites without using code.
When I started my site, I used a free theme to save money. You can do the same or you can buy a theme if you like.
If you want to know what theme I used, it’s called GeneratePress. It’s super fast, easy to customize, and has a free version.
I’ve since upgraded my affiliate site to the premium version for just $49.95.
Honestly though, you’ll be fine just starting with a free them for now.
But if you can afford it, I’d definitely recommend buying GeneratePress.
Anyway, after building the site, the next big step is content. And I’ll tell you about that now.
Step 4: Content Strategy
Here’s the thing… while design and layout are important, nothing matters more than content.
You can have the coolest looking site but without content it’s just going to be a virtual paperweight.
Content attracts visitors. And without attracting visitors you won’t be making money.
My initial content strategy was simple… publish 20 articles a month. Most of which would be focused on reviewing products in my niche.
That may seem like a lot, but when you break it down it’s really not that much.
You see, my site had 5 different categories so that meant I only needed to create 4 articles per category.
Alright, that’s simple but HOW exactly do you create review articles with zero experience?
That’s an excellent question grasshopper, and I’ll tell you my secret.
Are you ready?
The answer is…
You work your ass off researching products and writing reviews by yourself.
Sorry. If you thought there was an easier way, there isn’t.
I know I’ll lose some people here who were hoping it was going to be. And that’s cool.
We don’t need lazy people around us anyway. Reward never begets regret.
Now… if you’re still reading while the quitters have left, let me tell you about the research strategy.
Most products on Amazon have a ton of reviews but some of them are worse than fake news. That means it’s hard to trust 5 star reviews.
So what I did was read through the 2-4 star reviews (not all of them, just enough).
But I didn’t stop there because that’s what everyone else does. You and I aren’t like everyone else though, we’re badasses!
And what do badass people do?
They provide amazing value. They hustle harder and give the kind of maximum effort that would make Deadpool blush.
So the next thing I did was visit sites like Target, YouTube, company websites, etc., to do more research. This gave me the kind of unbiased feedback I needed.
And if you think that’s enough research… think again!
Next I needed to get feedback by talking to people (no, not on the street).
To do that I went to forums like Reddit, where my target audience hung out. Then I asked them questions to learn more about the products I was going to write about.
Look, I’ll be real with you…
It’s definitely challenging if you’re doing all of this on a limited budget and as a one-person show.
But when you start making money, you can reinvest it into your website and grow much faster. And over time, you’ll probably have a team that allows you to work less than you did when you first started.
I’m at the point now where I’ve hired a writer and editor part-time.
And you can get there too. But you’ve got to be willing to put in the work to grow in the beginning.
Anyways, that’s pretty much the gist of my content strategy. Now it’s time to talk about driving traffic.
Step 5: Traffic Game-plan
Even though you probably shouldn’t expect a ton of traffic in the first few weeks, you still need a plan for getting it.
My plan was simple… I was going to use a combination of social media, email outreach, and forums to drive traffic to my site.
With social media, I stuck to Pinterest. Using that platform is pretty much self-explanatory.
All I did was create pins for my posts and pinned them to my boards. I also pinned other relevant things and joined groups to connect and share with other Pinterest users.
As for email outreach, I simply sent emails to bloggers, writers, etc. Most websites have a “contact” section or email address listed. And for writers, you can usually hit them up on Twitter.
Forums are awesome too. Almost every niche has one. And the beauty about it is you can find endless information and topic ideas for content. It’s truly a goldmine that most people ignore because it’s not as sexy as social media.
Those are the only sources that I’ve ever used to get traffic to my website. And the results have been amazing!
Plus, it didn’t hurt that all three traffic sources were basically free.
Altogether, my startup costs remained under $100.
As I said before, hosting was my only expense in the beginning. I didn’t spend money until I started making some.
BTW, if you’re curious, I still use the same traffic strategy today. The only difference is that I’ve now added paid social media ads to my arsenal.
But that’s a topic for another day. Let’s talk about what you can do today.
Stick a Pin in It
Enjoying the post so far? Think it’s been helpful? Wanna do a good deed today? Then save it to Pinterest so other people can experience it too!
How Quickly Can You Start Doing This?
Getting your affiliate website built and ready for content shouldn’t take you more than 2 days (4 max if you work at a slower pace).
And once you set it up, you don’t have to do anything else except update things like themes and plugins occasionally.
As I said before, content is the key to making money because it attracts visitors to your affiliate site. So you’ll have to create it yourself until you can afford to hire freelance writers to do it for you.
At the end of my first month, I actually had 17 articles done – not quite the 20 I hoped for but nothing to sneeze at either.
You don’t have to do as much, 3 to 5 articles is okay.
TIP: You should always set a high target for yourself and make a commitment to achieve it.
Realistically, you can expect to have a fully functioning website with some content in about a 7 to 10 days.
Alrighty then, it’s time to talk about the fun stuff… making money.
From $0 To $8,149 in Just 10 Months
Before we begin I just want to remind you again that I didn’t pay for things like themes, tools, etc., until after my site was making money.
Apart from the hosting fees of $71.28, everything else was paid for with the affiliate earnings.
I’ve never invested another penny of my own money.
The site is 100% self-funded and self-sustaining.
Okay, let’s continue…
The First Dollar I Made
The first sale came towards the end of the second month. It was for a set of blackout curtains, which had nothing to do with my niche.
But that’s how Amazon’s affiliate program works. You get credit for literally anything someone buys if they land on Amazon via your website.
In my case, I pocketed a whopping $1.75 from the sale.
And you know what I did next?
I took my life-changing money and bought a mansion, got a Lamborghini, quit my job, and retired on a beach in the Caribbean!
Obviously I’m only kidding. That didn’t happen – yet.
Jokes aside, the first dollar your website earns will make you go crazy.
When you build something from scratch and make money from it, the feeling you get is amazing!
I can’t explain it but it’s probably similar to selling your first glass of lemonade as a kid.
Anyways, at that point my site had about 37 articles published. And the next big milestone was trying to make $500 a month.
Shortly after spring I started implementing my traffic strategy. As a result, my content production took a hit.
Remember, it was just me doing all the work at that point, so a reduction in some areas was expected. It didn’t bother me though because it was all part of the game-plan.
Speaking of planning, you’ll never guess what happened next…
Two of my articles got featured on a very popular blog!
That obviously drove a ton of traffic to my site. And I was glad that I had a lot of content for all those hungry readers.
The traffic increase was definitely a huge reason I was able to surpass the $500 per month milestone. In fact, it was just a wee bit short of four figures that I could almost taste it.
BTW, remember how I said my content production slowed down?
Well I pretty much stopped it completely. All my attention had shifted towards traffic generation.
After hitting the $500 milestone, I upgraded the website theme, bought a few plugins, and hooked up an email service.
Again, all of that was funded by the affiliate earnings. I had already recouped my initial investment of $71.28.
Anyways, the rest of my traffic generation efforts started paying off too. And just as I expected, the most epic moment came in the summer…
The $1,000 Milestone!
Honestly, the best word to describe what that felt like is – orgasmic!
Don’t worry, when you hit your own milestones, you’ll feel the same way.
Once I got to $1000, I made my first hire for a content creator. And just like that I no longer had a content problem.
It meant that I could put all my energy and effort into growing the site to the next level… earning 5 figures per month.
As of today, my affiliate website earns between $3K to $4K per month. And I expect those numbers to keep increasing.
By the end of this year, I will easily be making $10,000 a month or more.
Now you’re probably saying to yourself… “Meh, those figures ain’t as sexy as $95,000.”
Well that’s true and I totally agree with you.
But with all due respect, I don’t care what you think. Here’s why…
The plan was NEVER to make six figures or a million dollars in one year – although it would’ve been nice to do so.
The main goal was to execute the game-plan to prove to myself that I could do it (and prove that lady wasn’t full of BS, kinda like how some people might feel about me now).
And now that I know it actually works, the sky’s the freakin’ limit!
Start Your Own Affiliate Website
So what does all this mean for you?
It means that affiliate marketing is a great way to replace or supplement your income.
And there will never be a better time to start an online business. All you need is a computer, wifi, and $100.
If you don’t have a computer, go to the library. It’s FREE.
And let’s be real, if you’re reading this right now you can definitely afford $100.
As for any other excuses you have, they’re all pretty much useless.
You have to decide if you want to put in the time and effort to create something.
Or… you can spend the rest of your life looking forward to bi-weekly paychecks, working in a job you hate, and “waiting for the time to be right.”
If you’re tired of just existing in life and believe you’re capable of being successful, then it’s time to do something about it.
There’s enough information in this post for you to get started today.
You can do it. I believe in you.
P.S. – If you found this post helpful, I encourage you to pay it forward by sharing it with others. Just hit the buttons below to do that now.