How To Start An Affiliate Marketing Business [+Step-By-Step Guide]

Updated: January 18th, 2023

How To Start An Affiliate Marketing Business [+Step-By-Step Guide]

Are you looking to start a affiliate marketing business?

If you talk to any entrepreneur, getting started is one of the hardest parts of launching your own business.

There are many things to consider, such as:

  • Validating your business idea
  • Setting up your business structure
  • Launch ideas for your business
  • Determining your marketing strategy
  • And much more!

In this detailed guide, we lay out all the steps to help you get started and run your business successfully.

market size
$17B
avg revenue (monthly)
$298K
starting costs
$11.7K
gross margin
90%
time to build
210 days
growth channels
SEO
business model
Subscriptions
best tools
Instagram, Zapier, Ahrefs
time investment
Side project
pros & cons
39 Pros & Cons
tips
9 Tips

💡 Introduction To Starting An Affiliate Marketing Business

Is Starting An Affiliate Marketing Business Right For You?

There are many factors to consider when starting an affiliate marketing business.

We put together the main pros and cons for you here:

Pros of starting an affiliate marketing business

• Flexibility

You can put as much time into the business as you'd like. If you like the work and have some initial experience, you can start small and manage all aspects of the business on your own.

• Ability to start your business from home

It's not necessary to have a physical storefront or office space to get your business started. You can do everything from the comfort of your own home, at least in the beginning!

• Little startup costs required

The cost to start a affiliate marketing business costs significantly less money than most businesses, ranging anywhere from 62 to 23,259.

• Rewarding work

Starting a affiliate marketing business can be really rewarding work. After all, you are solving an immediate issue for your customer and you're working on something you truly care about.

• Scalable

With businesses and processes changing daily, there will always be demand for new features, products and services for your business. Additionally, there are several different business models and pricing tiers you can implement that will allow you to reach all types of customers.

• No overhead costs

To get your affiliate marketing business started, there are no costs associated with overhead, storage, packaging, etc. This will save you a lot of time and money!

• Meaningful business connections

You never know who you will meet as a affiliate marketing business. This could be the start of an incredible business opportunity!

• High margins

The gross margins for your affiliate marketing business are typically around 90%, which is considerably high and allows you to grow your business and manage costs easily.

• Quick build time

The average time it takes to build your product is quick - typically around 7 months. This will allow you to bring your product to market faster.

• Pick & choose the clients you work with

Affiliate Marketing Businesses have the ability to choose the clients they work with. You have the freedom to work with only a few loyal clients or with hundreds of clients!

• Control of workload

With starting an affiliate marketing business, you have the unique ability to choose how little or how much you want to work. You also have the freedom to decide which projects you want to work on, and can turn down the ones that do not interest you.

• Gain exposure and experience

This career allows you to gain experience working for multiple different businesses - which will benefit your resume and also keep things interesting for you!

• Unlimited income potential

With starting an affiliate marketing business there is no cap as to how much income you can make. The stronger your business skills and the more energy/time you put into your career, the more you'll make.

• You are your own boss!

With starting an affiliate marketing business, you are the one to make decisions for almost all of the operations. Calling the shots can be empowering and liberating!

• Higher likelihood of getting referrals

This business is all about referrals, which can be a a very impactful way to attract and retain customers. It's critical that you have a great referral program in place that incentivizes your customers to tell their friends about your product.

• Simple business model

A affiliate marketing business has the advantage of a simple business model, which makes launching and building the business more seamless.

• Control your own destiny

Starting An Affiliate Marketing Business allows you to control every aspect of your life and make your own dreams come true every day.

• You can decide who you work with

Gone are the days of working in a toxic work environment with employees that you may not vibe with. As a small business owner, you get to decide who you work and surround yourself with.

• Express your opinions

With starting an affiliate marketing business, you can express your opinions and knowledge to your audience, which allows you to build your own reputation and identity.

• You can work from anywhere!

Not only can you start your affiliate marketing business from home, you can also run your business from anywhere in the world. This is the entrepreneur dream.

• You get to inspire others

Your business is one that encourages and inspires others, which in itself, can be very fulfilling.

• High Hourly Pay Rates

On average, the hourly pay rates are high for your affiliate marketing business - which means quality of clients is often superior to quantity of clients.

• Never a dull moment

With starting a affiliate marketing business, there is truly never a dull moment. Your job offers a lot of variety and allows you to meet interesting people from all walks of life.

• Various different ways to make money

With starting a affiliate marketing business, there is not just one business model to choose from. This field is amazing in that there are various different ways to make money. Although this may complicate things, it's great to have different options and sources of revenue.

• Can build solid foundation of clients

It's unlikely you will have one-off customers as a affiliate marketing business. Typically, you have a solid foundation of clients that use your product and services regularly.

Cons of starting an affiliate marketing business

• Crowded Space

Competition is high when it comes to your affiliate marketing business, so it's important that you spend a good amount of time analyzing the market and understanding where the demand lies.

• Longer Sales Process

A affiliate marketing business can be a big time and money investment for your customer, so it's important you plan and predict a longer conversion funnel and stay in communication with potential customers.

• Work can be inconsistent

As a affiliate marketing business, the amount of work assigned to you and schedule tends to be more inconsistent, which may make your income less stable. It's important to set boundaries and budget accordingly based on the amount of work you plan to have.

• Lack of benefits

With a affiliate marketing business, you are typically self-employed and responsible for finding your own insurance, which can be quite costly and time-consuming.

• Isolation

Often times, as a affiliate marketing business, you typically work alone and do not have much face-to-face interaction with other team members.

• Taxes

As a affiliate marketing business, you typically pay self-employment taxes which can be quite high. It's important to understand what you will be paying in taxes each year so you can determine if the work you're taking on is worth it.

• No safety net

Typically, as a affiliate marketing business, you do not receive a consistent pay-check and instead earn money based on your transactions each month. During the slow periods, you typically take away less since the job is based on commission. It's important to budget accordingly for the slow times.

• Stressful work

This line of work can be stressful for both you and your clients. This type of transaction is a significant financial decision for your client, so expectations are very high for you. Although this career path can be very rewarding, it also comes with its challenges and stressful moments.

• Time commitment

With starting an affiliate marketing business, all responsibilities and decisions are in your hands. Although this is not necessarily a negative thing, work life can take over at times. This can place a strain on friends and family and add to the pressure of launching a new business.

• Be prepared to get out of your comfort zone!

Although this is exciting for some entrepreneurs, it can be a big challenge for others! You may find yourself in uncomfortable social and business situations, jumping into tasks and responsibilities you aren't familiar with, and pushing yourself as far as you can go!

• Minimal physical activity

A big part of starting a affiliate marketing business is sitting at a desk for the majority of the day starting at your computer. Some may enjoy this, but others may struggle with sitting for the majority of your day without much physical activity.

• Learning Curve

When you start your own business, you no longer have upper management to provide you with a playbook for your roles and responsibilities. You should know the ins and outs of every aspect of your business, as every decision will come down to you.

• Easy target for criticism

Since your affiliate marketing business has the ability to reach a large audience, you'll need to be able to handle criticism. The internet can be a cruel place, and regardless of your intentions, many people will disagree with you and even take their criticism too far. To survive in this industry, you'll need to have tough skin (or at least learn this along the way).

• The job can be demanding

This is one of the major disadvantages starting a affiliate marketing business. It's important to understand that you may need to make yourself available on a 24/7 basis.

Players

Big Players

Small Players

Search Interest

Let's take a look at the search trends for affiliate marketing services over the last year:

How To Name Your Affiliate Marketing Business

It's important to find a catchy name for your affiliate marketing business so that you can stand out in your space.

Here are some general tips to consider when naming your affiliate marketing business

  • Avoid hard to spell names: you want something easy to remember and easy to spell for your customers
  • Conduct a search to see if others in the space have the same name
  • Try not to pick a name that limits growth opportunities for your business (ie. if you decide to expand into other product lines)
  • As soon as you have an idea (or ideas) of a few names that you love, register the domain name(s) as soon as possible!

Why is naming your affiliate marketing business so important?

The name of your business will forever play a role in:

  • Your customers first impression
  • Your businesses identity
  • The power behind the type of customer your brand attracts
  • If you're memorable or not

It's important to verify that the domain name is available for your affiliate marketing business.

You can search domain availability here:

Find a domain starting at $0.88

powered by Namecheap

Although .com names are the most common and easiest to remember, there are other options if your .com domain name is not available. Depending on your audience, it may not matter as much as you think.

It's also important to thoroughly check if social media handles are available.

As soon as you resonate with a name (or names), secure the domain and SM handles as soon as possible to ensure they don't get taken.

Here's some inspiration for naming your affiliate marketing business:

  • Media Trade check availability
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  • The Italian Division Place check availability

Read our full guide on naming your affiliate marketing business ➜

How To Create A Slogan For Your Affiliate Marketing Business:

Slogans are a critical piece of your marketing and advertising strategy.

The role of your slogan is to help your customer understand the benefits of your product/service - so it's important to find a catchy and effective slogan name.

Often times, your slogan can even be more important than the name of your brand.

Here are 6 tips for creating a catchy slogan for your affiliate marketing business:

1. Keep it short, simple and avoid difficult words

A great rule of thumb is that your slogan should be under 10 words. This will make it easy for your customer to understand and remember.

2. Tell what you do and focus on what makes you different

There are a few different ways you can incorporate what makes your business special in your slogan:

  • Explain the target customer you are catering your services towards
  • What problem do you solve?
  • How do you make other people, clients, or your employer look good?
  • Do you make people more successful? How?

3. Be consistent

Chances are, if you're coming up with a slogan, you may already have your business name, logo, mission, branding etc.

It's important to create a slogan that is consistent with all of the above.

4. Ensure the longevity of your slogan

Times are changing quickly, and so are businesses.

When coming up with your slogan, you may want to consider creating something that is timeless and won't just fade with new trends.

5. Consider your audience

When finding a catchy slogan name, you'll want to make sure that this resonates across your entire audience.

It's possible that your slogan could make complete sense to your audience in Europe, but may not resonate with your US audience.

6. Get feedback!

This is one of the easiest ways to know if your slogan will be perceived well, and a step that a lot of brands drop the ball on.

Ask friends, family, strangers, and most importantly, those that are considered to be in your target market.

Here's some inspiration for coming up with a slogan for your affiliate marketing business:

  • The easiest way to make money online
  • Promote links, get paid
  • The affiliate company with a heart
  • Biggest commission rates
  • Cloak links, get cash
  • Every download counts
  • Every action equals profit
  • Make money now or never

The Consulting Business Model

When implementing a consulting business model, you have a number of approaches to choose from:

Here are a few of the most common consulting business models:

1. The Time-Based Model

This is one of the more traditional consulting business models - where your rate, terms, and scope of work are outlined at the very beginning of the project.

Typically, with this model you would choose a day rate or an hourly rate.

2. The Project-Based Model

With a project-based model, you and your client agree on the scope of work you will be performing for a set amount of money.

There is typically a contract in place which covers the deliverables and expectations from both parties.

3. The Retainer-Based Model

The retainer model involves providing ongoing service for your clients over a specific period of time.

You may not provide a specific deliverable for your client, but instead, a broad scope of work over a set period.

4. The Consulting-Firm Model

This model is becoming more and more popular. The consulting firm model involves hiring freelancers or employees to complete work for your clients on your behalf.

Typically, in this situation, you still manage the relationship with the client, but you delegate some or all of the work to your team.

Which model should you choose?

The best way to determine which business model you will choose is to research other entrepreneurs or agencies in your space that are offering the same or similar service.

This will allow you to identify your competition, set your pricing, and determine your target audience.

Learn more about starting an affiliate marketing business:

Where to start?

-> Affiliate marketing business plan
-> How to finance an affiliate marketing business?
-> How much does it cost to start an affiliate marketing business?
-> Pros and cons of an affiliate marketing business

Need inspiration?

-> Other affiliate marketing business success stories
-> Examples of established affiliate marketing business
-> Affiliate marketing business slogans
-> Affiliate marketing business names
-> Affiliate marketing business Instagram bios

Other resources

-> Profitability of an affiliate marketing business
-> Affiliate marketing business tips
-> Email templates for an affiliate marketing business
-> Blog post ideas for an affiliate marketing business

🎬 How To Start An Affiliate Marketing Business

article

How Much Does It Cost To Start An Affiliate Marketing Business

If you are planning to start an affiliate marketing business, the costs are relatively low. This, of course, depends on if you decide to start the business with lean expenses or bringing in a large team and spending more money.

We’ve outlined two common scenarios for “pre-opening” costs of starting an affiliate marketing business and outline the costs you should expect for each:

  • The estimated minimum starting cost = $62
  • The estimated maximum starting cost = $23,259
Startup Expenses: Average expenses incurred when starting a affiliate marketing business. Min Startup Costs: You plan to execute on your own. You’re able to work from home with minimal costs. Max Startup Costs: You have started with 1+ other team members.
Office Space Expenses
Rent: This refers to the office space you use for your business and give money to the landlord. To minimize costs, you may want to consider starting your business from home or renting an office in a coworking space. $0 $5,750
Utility Costs For Office Space: Utility costs are the expense for all the services you use in your office, including electricity, gas, fuels, telephone, water, sewerage, etc. $0 $1,150
WiFi & Internet: Whether you work from home or in an office space, WiFi is essential. Although the cost is minimal in most cases, it should be appropriately budgeted for each month! $0 $100
Total Office Space Expenses $0 (min) $7,000 (max)
Employee & Freelancer Expenses
Payroll Costs & Fees: Payroll cost means the expense of paying your employees, which includes salaries, wages, and other benefits. This number depends on if you decide to pay yourself a salary upfront and how many employees you have on payroll. At first, many founders take on all responsibilities until the business is up and running. You can always hire down the road when you understand where you need help. Keep in mind, if you do plan to pay yourself, the average salary founders make is $50K. $150 $250
Total Employee & Freelancer Expenses $150 (min) $250 (max)
Website Costs
Website Builder: The cost of your website will vary depending on which platform you choose. There are many website builders on the market, so it's important you choose the right one for your business and overall goals. To learn more about your options + how to build a great website, check out this article. $10 $500
Web Designer: Web design includes several different aspects, including webpage layout, content creation, and design elements.If you have the skills and knowledge to design your website on your own, then outsourcing this to an expert may not be necessary. There are plenty of other ways you can design a beautiful website using design tools and software. $200 $6,000
Domain Name: Your domain name is the URL and name of your website - this is how internet users find you and your website.Domain names are extremely important and should match your company name and brand. This makes it easier for customers to remember you and return to your website. $12 $200
Business Email Hosting Service: An email hosting runs a dedicated email server. Once you have your domain name, you can set up email accounts for each user on your team. The most common email hosts are G Suite and Microsoft 365 Suite. The number of email accounts you set up will determine the monthly cost breakdown. $1 $15
Website Hosting Costs: Server hosting is an IT service typically offered by a cloud service provider that hosts the website information and allows remote access through the internet. A hosted server can help you scale up and increase your business’s efficacy, relieving you from the hassles of on-premise operations. $0 $300
Total Website Costs $223 (min) $7,015 (max)
Business Formation Fees
Small Business Insurance: Depending on which state you live in and the business you're operating, the costs and requirements for small business insurance vary. You can learn more here. $500 $2,000
Permit and License Fees: Depending on your industry, there are certain licenses and permits you may need in order to comply with state, local, and federal regulations. Here is an article that goes over all the permits and licenses you may need for your affiliate marketing business. $50 $700
Lawyer Fees: Although you may want to avoid attorney fees, it's important that your business (and you) are covered at all costs. This comes into play when creating founder agreements, setting up your business legal structure, and of course, any unforeseen circumstances that may happen when dealing with customers or other businesses. $0 $1,500
Set up business: LLC & Corporations: The first step in setting up your business is deciding whether your business is an LLC, S Corp or C Corp. The cost for this depends on which state you form your business and which structure you decide on. We put together an article that goes over the 10 Steps To Setting Up A Business. $50 $500
Total Business Formation Fees $600 (min) $4,700 (max)
Software Expenses
Design Programs & Software: These programs might include the Adobe family of design tools: Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and others. This is typically a monthly subscription ranging from $10-$50/mo. $0 $50
Email marketing tool: If you plan to grow your email list and email marketing efforts, you may want to consider investing in an email marketing platform (ie. Klaviyo, MailChimp). We put together a detailed guide on all of the email marketing tools out there + the pricing models for each one here. $0 $100
IT Support: IT support installs and configures hardware and software and solves any technical issues that may arise.IT support can be used internally or for your customers experiencing issues with your product/service.There are a variety of tools and software you can use to help with any technical issues you or your customers are experiencing. This is a great option for businesses that do not have the means to hire a team of professionals. $150 $2,000
Accounting & Invoicing Software: It's important to have an accounting system and process in place to manage financials, reporting, planning and tax preparation. Here are the 30 best accounting tools for small businesses. $0 $50
CRM Software: CRM (customer relationship management) software system is used to track and analyze your company’s interactions with clients and prospects. Although this is not a necessary tool to have for your business, implementing this, in the beginning, may set your business up for success and save you valuable time. $12 $300
Project Management Software: You may want to consider using a project management and collaboration tool to organize your day-to-day. This can also be very beneficial if you have a larger team and want to keep track of everyones tasks and productivity. For a full list of project management tools, check out this full list here. $0 $25
Internal Communication Tool: If you plan to have multiple members on your team, you may want to consider an instant message tool such as Slack or Telegram. The cost is usually billed per month (approx $5/user/month) or there are freemium versions available on many platforms. $0 $20
Social Media Management Tools: If you plan to do social media marketing for your affiliate marketing business, you should consider investing in a social media automation or publishing tool. This will save you time and allow you to track performance and engagement for your posts. Here is a list of 28 best social media tools for your small business. $0 $50
File Hosting Service: It's important to make sure the information for your affiliate marketing business is stored and protected should something happen to your computer or hard drive. The cost for this is affordable and depends on how much data you need to store. To learn more about the different options and pricing on the market, check out this article. $0 $299
Total Software Expenses $162 (min) $2,894 (max)
Advertising & Marketing Costs
Business Cards: A affiliate marketing business involves quite a bit of customer interaction, whether that is attending tradeshows, sales calls or simply having face to face interaction with prospective clients. Business cards are a great way to stay front of mind with your clients. $0 $50
Networking Membership Fees: Joining local networking groups or your chamber of commerce is a traditional yet effective way to promote your affiliate marketing business - but these fees add up! It's important to choose the right group(s) that align with your business and help with growth. $0 $250
Direct Campaigns, Printing and Mailing: Although it may sound old-school, traditional marketing methods can be a cost-effective way to drive awareness for your brand. This includes flyers, postcards, sales letters, coupons, special offers, catalogs and brochures. $0 $300
Press: If your business and story is unique enough, press and media attention may come to you, but odds are, you may need to do your own outreach and budget for this. We put together a guide here that discusses different press opportunities (both free and paid). $0 $500
Google Ads: With Google Ads you have the ability to control how much you spend by simply setting a monthly budget cap. Additionally, with these ads you only pay for results, such as clicks to your website or phone calls! It's okay to start with a small budget at first and make changes accordingly if you see valuable returns. $0 $300
Total Advertising & Marketing Costs $0 (min) $1,400 (max)
Total Starting Costs $62 (min) $23,259 (max)

Raising Money For Your Affiliate Marketing Business

Here are the most common ways to raise money for your affiliate marketing business:

Bootstrapping

You may not need funding for your affiliate marketing business.

In fact, many entrepreneurs take this approach when starting their own business, whether they have a little amount of cash or a substantial amount to get started.

So what exactly does the term "bootstrapping" mean?

This method essentially refers to self-funding your businesswithout external help or capital and reinvesting your earnings back into the business**

Bootstrapping means building your company from the ground up with your own, or your loved ones, personal savings and reinvesting all earnings back into the business

Here are some tips to consider when bootstrapping your business:

  • Use your savings as your capital - one of the best ways to bootstrap your business is to collect your savings and use them as startup capital. This will also help you avoid using your personal or business credit cards when getting started.
  • Determine exactly how much capital you need and how much capital you have to get your business off the ground. Generally, when bootstrapping your business, you may want to consider starting a business that involves less startup capital.
  • Consider starting a business that will generate immediate returns so you can put money back into the business
  • Be as lean as possible - this refers to cutting down expenses as much as possible, such as payroll, fancy software tools, unnecessary travel, renting an office, etc
  • Consider outsourcing instead of hiring - in the beginning, you may not need to hire someone permanently to help run your business. It tends to be much less expensive to outsource work to a freelancer and hire someone permanently down the road!

Want to learn more about bootstrapping your business? Check out this article

VC Funding

VC funding is a traditional and long process, but an effective way to raise money for your business.

The term "VC funding" refers to venture capital firms investing in businesses in exchange for equity.

The VC's (venture capitalists) are an individual or small group investing in your business and typically require substantial ownership of the business, with the hope of seeing a return on their investment.

VC's are typically the best approach for businesses with high startup costs - where it would be very difficult to raise the money on your own or through a loan.

When deciding whether to take this approach, it's important that you have a few things in place first, and know what you're getting yourself into:

Determine if your business is ready

Having an idea is not enough to get VC funding.

Typically, VC's will check to make sure you have these things in place prior to closing any deal:

  • An MVP (Minimal Viable Product)
  • A founding team with all proper documents in place (articles of organization, business formation)
  • A validated idea with actual customers buying your product/service

Get everything in place and build a pitch deck

A VC individual or firm will be expecting a fine-tuned presentation that gives an overview of your business.

Here's what you should consider including in your pitch deck:

  • Management team, their previous experience + current roles in the business
  • Market challenge and solution
  • Company financials - including a P&L statement, cash flow statement, and projections
  • Company progress
  • Investment amount - how much do you need and why?

Research the right VC to fund your business

Research the types of VC investors out there and what niche they focus on.

Then, put together a list of target VC's you want to approach and your strategy around setting up meetings.

Be sure you have everything in place (as discussed above) before setting up any meeting!

Make sure the terms and expectations are right for your business

Committing to VC funding is a big deal and a decision that should not be made lightly.

Although the money and experience from VC's can help your business quickly grow, you are also giving away a stake in the company, and the money comes with strings attached.

Be sure you do your due diligence in finding the right investor - one that truly believes in the growth and success of your business.

What Skills Do I Need To Succeed In Starting An Affiliate Marketing Business?

As a affiliate marketing business, there are several essential skills and characteristics that are important to identify prior to starting your business.

Let’s look at these skills in more detail so you can identify what you need to succeed in your day-to-day business operations:

Resarch and Writing Skills

Research and writing skills are critical when starting an affiliate marketing business. Here's what this looks like:

  • Basic computer & technology skills (Microsoft office or Google sheets/docs knowledge, data input, and proficiency in typing)
  • Creativity & originality in your work and approach
  • Great communication skills and ability to meet deadlines
  • Understanding of SEO

Other skills that businesses find valuable include digital marketing skills, basic web design, and accounting abilities. Some employers may also look for a affiliate marketing business that has a bachelor's degree or formal education.

Additionally, you may want to consider putting together a portfolio of past work and experience. This includes samples of writing/research pieces, from school projects to internship work to career experience.

Design Skills

Whether you are the one designing the product or the decision-maker for the product, an eye for design is critical when starting an affiliate marketing business. Here's what this looks like:

  • Creative Thinking - the ability to develop or design different products or ideas
  • Visualization - being able to imagine or visualize how the product will look
  • Articulation - the ability to communicate what the design will look like and how it will be executed
  • Detail-oriented - paying close attention to all of the small pieces when designing or working on a project
  • Some technical skills - knowledge of the design software you are using to create the product or build prototypes.

Other skills that may be valuable to have when starting an affiliate marketing business include digital marketing skills, branding experience, and basic business knowledge.

Business Savvy Skills

When starting an affiliate marketing business, there are a few fundamental business skills you will want to learn in order to be successful:

  • Leadership and training skills: A great team starts with YOU. Make sure you have all company policies and training procedures in place prior to hiring your team
  • Decisive and self-confident: Over the course of your career, you will need decisions that could impact your business significantly. It's important you are able to think clearly and rationally about these decisions.
  • Ability to understand the financials: You don't need to be an accountant, but it is important that you are able to clearly understand and define metrics such as expenses, revenue, profit, margins, COGS, etc.
  • Strategic Thinking: Setting clear goals and benchmarks, identifying opportunities, risks. Ability to effectively communicate these insights to your team.

These are a few of many business savvy skills you should have (or work on) when starting an affiliate marketing business.

For a full list, check out this article here.

Customer Service Skills

Friendly communication with customers and the ability to address service issues is a critical part of the job.

Here are some customer service skills you may want to consider prior to starting an affiliate marketing business:

  • Professionalism: The way you act, present yourself, and respond to situations all leave an impression on your customer. It's important to stay professional at all times when handling customer requests or issues.
  • Problem-solving: When issues arise, it's important that you are able to think quick on your feet and address the situation with a calm and clear solution
  • Friendly-manner: This is an obvious one, but customers truly appreciate someone that can respond in a quick, efficient, and friendly manner.
  • Proficient in writing: These skills include the ability to write well-crafted emails, service tickets, and any other programs used by the business (ie. chat functions, SMS texting)

Self Motivation Skills

Self motivation and discipline skills are critical in order to become successful in this field.

It's likely that you will find yourself starting and running your affiliate marketing business from home, which could mean there are more distractions for you.

Here are the basic skills needed for self motivation & discipline:

  • Becoming a self starter: It's important that you are capable of independently completing a task without the help or direction of anyone else
  • Listening and following directions: When you are given direction by others, it's critical that you are able to follow directions and ask the right questions in order to get your job done
  • Taking the initiative in problem solving: Instead of taking the easy route, you'll need to learn to troubleshoot issues on your own as much as possible.

Advice For Starting An Affiliate Marketing Business

We've interviewed thousands of successful founders at Starter Story and asked what advice they would give to entrepreneurs who are just getting started.

Here's the best advice we discovered for starting an affiliate marketing business:

Shannon Mattern, founder of Web Designer Academy ($42K/month):

Get a second opinion from someone you trust with business advice when you aren’t sure if you’re making the right call.

Read the full interview ➜

-

Jamie I.F., founder of increasing.com ($40K/month):

I’ve learned that to be on top of my game, I have to continuously test out new ideas and experiment with what could work.

Read the full interview ➜

-

Jan Kovac, founder of Casino Guru ($773K/month):

The funny part about any SEO-based business is that you can’t really make decent planning. Do you plan to improve some parts of your website and grow? Well, good luck with that, almighty G can have completely different plans for you.

Read the full interview ➜

-

Jan Kovac, founder of Casino Guru ($773K/month):

Prioritize and consider the real value of improvements before deciding to act on them.

Read the full interview ➜

-

Spencer Mecham, founder of Buildapreneur ($80K/month):

My business is currently yielding more than half a million dollars a year in profits. And it does that with very little expense.

Read the full interview ➜

-

Write a Business Plan

Writing a business plan from the start is critical for the success of your affiliate marketing business.

Why?

Because this allows you to roadmap exactly what you do, what your overall structure will look like, and where you want to be in the future.

For many entrepreneurs, writing out the business plan helps validate their idea and decide whether or not they should move forward with starting the business.

You may want to consider expanding upon these sections in your business plan:

  • Executive Summary: Brief outline of your product, the market, and growth opportunities
  • Overviews and Objectives: Overview of your business, target customers, and what you need to run your business
  • Products and Services: Specifics on the products and services your business will provide
  • Market Opportunities: Analysis of customer demographics, buyer habits and if your product is in demand
  • Marketing: Outline of your marketing plan and how you plan to differentiate yourself from other customers
  • Competitive analysis: Analysis of your competition and the strengths and weaknesses therein
  • Operations: Hierarchal structure of the company and what it will take to run the business on the day-to-day
  • Leadership Team: Detailing roles and responsibilities of each manager based on their specific skill-set
  • Financial Analysis Understanding of all expenses, operating budgets, and projections for the future.

Learn more about how to write a business plan here

Determine Which Business Bank Account You Need

There are hundreds of banks out there, and it can be overwhelming to find one that's right for your business.

Here are some factors you may want to consider:

  • Location - Is your bank close enough that you can easily make deposits or get cash?
  • Low Fees - Make sure to understand any and all fees associated with setting up and maintaining your bank account. Ask for a list - banks usually try to keep this hidden and in the fine print.
  • Online Banking Services - Make sure you can easily navigate through your online portal and you have easy access to everything you need.
  • Line of Credit - What do your options look like (even if you don't need this now, you may need this down the road).
  • Every bank has something that differentiates them from the rest, so make sure whatever that is applied to your needs and values.

Check out this list of the 13 Best Banks for Small Business in 2020 and what makes them so unique.

When it comes to setting up your business, you may find yourself in a place where you have to make some financial and legal decisions.

The first thing you'll want to decide on is whether you want to be an LLC, S-Corp, or C-Corp.

These three options are found to be the most common when starting a small business, and all serve to protect your personal assets and also provide you with certain tax benefits.

  • LLC: All income and expenses from the business are reported on the LLC personal income tax return.
  • S corp: Owners pay themselves salaries + receive dividends from profits.
  • C Corp: C Corps are separately taxable entities that file a corporate tax return (Form 1120). No income tax is paid at the corporate level and any tax due is paid at the owners individual expense.

Depending on where you're conducting business, you'll also want to consider securing the proper permits, licenses and liability insurance.

Learn more about securing the right permits and licenses ➜

Need to start an LLC? Create an LLC in minutes with ZenBusiness.

How Do I Pay Myself As A Small Business Owner?

Most entrepreneurs start a business to do something they love- but at the end of the day, you still have bills to pay (maybe now more than ever).

But it's important to strike the right balance - if you pay yourself too much, you could be putting your business at risk.

There are two common ways to pay yourself as a business owner:

1. Owner's Draw

Many entrepreneurs pay themselves through an owner's draw. This means that you are technically sean as "self-employed" through the eyes of the IRS and are not paid through regular wages.

At the point that you collect money from the draw, taxes typically are not taken out - so make sure you are prepared to pay these taxes once you file your individual return.

As an owner who takes a draw, you can legally take out as much as you want from your equity.

This type of compensation is suited for Sole props, LLCs, and partnerships. If you’re an S corp, you can pay yourself through both a salary and draw if you choose.

2. Salary

If you decide to pay yourself a salary, you will receive a set and recurring amount. This will be taxed by the federal government and the state you reside in.

The reality is that it can be really complicated to set your own salary, so we have some tips for you to consider:

  • Take out a reasonable amount that allows you to live comfortably but also sets your business up for success
  • Consider the number of hours you are working weekly + the type of duties you are performing.
  • Set your salary based on your industry-standard, location, and profits (or projected profits)
  • Look at your P&L statement: Deduct your own pay from that amount. This is important so you can first tackle important business expenses, and then pay yourself from the amount leftover.
  • Pick a payroll schedule (and stick to it)! In the US, it's most common to pay yourself and employees twice a month.

https://media.giphy.com/media/xT0xeLTRncS90ptpfi/giphy.gif

To learn more about how to pay yourself and what is a reasonable amount, check out this article.

How To Price Your Affiliate Marketing Services

One of the most challenging aspects to starting an affiliate marketing business is determining how much to charge for your affiliate marketing services.

When businesses under-price their product, this can be extremely detrimental to their bottom line and reputation.

Often times, businesses under-price their products to drive demand and volume, but that last thing you want is for customers to view your product/service as "cheap." Additionally, this can have a big impact on the type of customer you attract, which can be difficult to recover from.

On the other hand, when businesses over-price, this tends to be just as damaging to the business.

When customers buy, it's likely that they will explore the internet and look at other competitors to ensure they're getting the best value + deal. This is why it's so important that you research your competition and understand where you land in the marketplace.

Here are some factors to consider when pricing your product:

Understand your customer

It's important that out of the gates, you identify the type of customer you want to attract and how much they're willing to pay for your service. One great way to do this is by surveying your customers. Here are some important items you'll want to takeaway:

  • Customer demographic: Age, gender, location, etc.
  • Buying habits of your customer: What they buy + when they buy
  • Level of price sensitivity with your customer

All of these segments will help you identify the type of customer you're attracting and how to price your product accordingly.

Understand your costs

When pricing your affiliate marketing services, it's critical that you first identify all of your costs and consequently mark up your affiliate marketing services so you can factor in a profit.

The actual cost of your affiliate marketing services may include things like:

  • The actual cost to make the product (ie. raw materials, supplies, manufacturer).
  • Shipping + overhead fees
  • Rent
  • Operating costs to run your business

You may want to consider creating a spreadsheet with every single expense involved in operating/owning your business. This will give you an idea as to what you need to generate in order to at the very least, break-even and will help you price your products to factor in a profit.

Create revenue goals

When determining the price of your affiliate marketing services, you'll want to create goals for revenue + how much profit you want your affiliate marketing business to make.

This process is simpler than you may think:

  1. Think about your breakeven cost (by completing the above step).
  2. Create a revenue goal based on your break-even cost
  3. Evaluate the # of items you plan to sell in a given period (make sure this is a realistic number)
  4. Divide your revenue goal by the number of items you plan to sell

This figure will help determine your estimated price per product in order to meet your revenue goals.

Evaluate your competition

The last piece in determining how to price your affiliate marketing services is by simply looking at your competition.

The best way to do this is by finding like-minded businesses that offer product(s) with similar perceived value. Then, you can compare prices of the different businesses and determine where your affiliate marketing services fits best in the marketplace.

All of these factors play an equal part in pricing your affiliate marketing services, so it's important you evaluate each one individually to come up with an accurate price that will help optimize your business from the start.

Rate Calculator: How to Calculate The Price For Your Affiliate Marketing Services Services

Our calculator is designed to be simple and easy to use.

The goal is to help you set realistic expectations and understand the hourly rate you should be charging to make your desired profit.

Please input below:

Identify Target Customer

A very critical piece in building affiliate marketing business is to identify your ideal target customer.

  • Develop a niche and create a consistent brand that reflects your target customer.
  • The colors, logo, content, and overall website should resonate with your target customer and should draw them in by helping them solve their specific "need".

Building an MVP (Minimal Viable Product)

When building a affiliate marketing business, it's critical that you first validate your product/service rather than rushing to build it right away.

This could save you months, if not years of building the wrong product/service.

If you're hoping to decrease any sort of risk that comes with launching your affiliate marketing business, designing a prototype can be a great way to de-risk your situation.

The point of your affiliate marketing services prototype is that it doesn't have to be perfect.

In the beginning stages, it doesn't matter how rough V1 of your prototype is, it's more important to just get started and you can always refine from there based on feedback from your network and most importantly your customers.

How To Build A MVP

Here are several different ways of building a prototype/MVP:

  • Start by building a landing page to see if customers actually need your product and if they are willing to pay for it
  • Build a very basic version of your idea and ask for immediate feedback from potential customers
  • Present a problem and solution via Facebook/Instagram Ads and see what the response is like

Niall Doherty, founder of eBiz Facts dives deep into the process of designing and prototyping their product:

Case Study

I spent the first month in my new business doing a bunch of research and rebranding my existing website.

Using Ahrefs, I researched my niche deeply and made a big list of keywords I wanted to target. The trick was to find keywords with high-income potential but low competition. Theoretically, solid content created around those keywords would bring quality traffic to my site, which I could then monetize via affiliate offers.

Before long I had a list of almost 100 keywords I intended to create content around.

I then got to work transforming my personal blog – where I wrote about anything and everything, from personal development to travel to public speaking – into a website wholly devoted to helping people make money online.

I was lucky in that my site had been around for more than ten years and had built up quite a few backlinks, so it had a good reputation in Google's eyes. That gave me a nice head start. However, it also meant I had tons of old irrelevant content on my site that needed to be dealt with.

I rewrote some of that content to be aligned with my new focus, moved chunks to another domain, and deleted 100+ articles that were no longer relevant.

Random cafe in Bali. Much of the early work on eBiz Facts was done in Ubud

After all that I was ready to create my first "product," which was several pieces of content focused on some overlapping keywords I'd discovered during the research phase.

The juiciest of those keywords were "tai lopez scam."

Tai Lopez is a controversial entrepreneur and influencer who sells a bunch of online courses related to business and finance. According to my research, someone in the world asks Google if he's a scammer every 3 minutes or so.

I decided to go deep and research Tai and his courses better than anyone ever had, then publish my findings. My hope was that I'd find his courses to be legit and could then genuinely recommend them to people visiting my site and hopefully earn some affiliate commissions.

So I bought Tai's two most popular courses and went through them with a fine-tooth comb. That, combined with researching a bunch of other things related to Tai Lopez and writing up all my findings, took me six weeks of solid work and resulted in 8 articles and 25,000 words, give or take.

I also produced this video as a summary of my research:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_EhuAUhTIY

Unfortunately, one of Tai's courses that I reviewed proved very disappointing, so my review for it was quite negative.

Luckily, I found another of his courses to be a pretty good value for money – though only if bought on sale – and I rated it 4-out-of-5 stars.

Before publishing all that content, I remember thinking about how it was my first true "swing of the bat" with this new business. I also remember telling friends that I wasn't sure if I'd ever make any money from that particular series, as I pulled no punches and ended up exposing many of Tai's questionable marketing tactics.

In short, my content didn't exactly make Tai Lopez look good, and I was doubtful that anyone visiting my site would click on my affiliate links and then buy something from Tai, thus earning me a commission.

But there was only one way to find out for sure...

Regarding affiliate marketing specifically, don't believe anyone who tells you it's easy. The people who do are usually trying to sell you a course.

-  
Niall Doherty, on starting eBiz Facts ($4,199/month) full story ➜

🚀 How To Launch Your Affiliate Marketing Business

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Build A Website

Building a website is imperative when launching your business, and with the right tools in place, this can be a simple task to check off the list (without having to hire someone).

  1. Pick a domain name that's easy to remember and easy to type
  2. Choose a Web Hosting Plan (ie. Shopify, Squarespace)
  3. Make sure you choose the right theme and design
  4. Implement the proper page structure (ie. about page, contact page, pricing etc)

To learn more about how to build a stellar website with little stress, we give you all the details on this step-by-step guide.

Best Website Platforms To Use For Your Affiliate Marketing Business:

There are a variety of websites platforms out there, and it's important to choose the right one that will set you up for success.

Here's everything you need to know about the two most common platforms for your affiliate marketing business:

WordPress

Free and open-source content management system based on PHP and MySQL.

Free to use/open source but you will need to pay for the hosting.

Businesses using WordPress:

842 successful businesses are using WordPress ➜

Get WordPress ➜

Squarespace

The all-in-one solution for anyone looking to create a beautiful website.

  • Personal Plan: $12/month
  • Business Plan: $18/month
  • Basic: $26/month
  • Advanced: $40/month

  • Pricing: Freemium

  • Twitter: @squarespace

  • Website: squarespace.com

Businesses using Squarespace:

133 successful businesses are using Squarespace ➜

Get Squarespace ➜

Web Design

Once you have chosen the domain, web hosting, and platform, it's time to get started with the design phase.

Themes are a great way to produce the fundamental style and identity of your website - this includes everything from your font design to your blog post styles.

One of the best ways to get started is to simply explore the various themes (free or paid depending on what you're looking for) and test them on your site.

If web-design really isn't in the cards for you, you may want to consider outsourcing a web designer to help bring your vision and brand to life.

Traditional Launch Strategies For Your Affiliate Marketing Business:

There are various different ways you can launch your affiliate marketing business successfully.

Here are a few different strategies to get customers excited about your affiliate marketing business:

  • Set up a Facebook page for your business. This is a great way to establish an online presence
  • Host an event in a fun location with drinks & food. This is a great way to get exposure in the local community.
  • Get Press! Pitch your story to the media and you may just land in an amazing publication
  • Live sales to get customers excited
  • Send a hand-written letter in the mail with a discount on your services to the local community/neighborhoods.

Julia Draghici, founder of CPV Lab Pro dives deep into the process of launching the business:

Case Study

As I joined the team after the MVP for CPV Lab, I can talk more about the moment when CPV Lab Pro was launched.

It was when we started working full-time on the product.

It started with some mistakes in communication, and now, looking back, we see that those could have been avoided. We didn’t communicate well with our customers about our management changes and we also asked them for a fee for some updates.

What can I say… looking back now I would have done things differently.

But the important part is to learn from that experience and move forward.

Any mistake is an opportunity to learn and every entrepreneur will learn much more from mistakes than from success.

Moving forward…

We created the website with a nice free theme and we created a logo ourselves with a free tool we found online (none of us being a designer back then).

For a while, the team was composed of just us, the 2 co-founders + a part-time colleague.

It was tough! Having a family with small kids and building a product was a big challenge.

And both of us working for the same business full time can be considered risky… Like putting all your eggs in one basket, a thing I am totally against in principle. But it was a risk I took back then and I believe it was worth making.

We bootstrapped all the new developments, marketing… well, everything.

Everything we produced with CPV Lab Pro we invested in the business.

We worked from home all the time and I remember that I liked working while my little one was asleep, as I got to forget about all the mummy stuff and focus on business.

Growing a business is a lot like growing a child: you need to do it in baby steps.

Building a business takes time and energy… and even when I was super tired I never thought to give up… because I discovered that I like it a lot. Like a LOT!

And I believe there is also something important to mention here, as opposed to the startups with external investments, when you bootstrap a company, you are very careful with your money. This is a mindset for a bootstrapped business: to get the most with as little as possible.

Build a product that is helping others, that is where you get the fulfillment in the early stage.

Last year, in 2022, we joined an accelerator program, Commons Accel, in Bucharest where we learned a lot about the startup ecosystem and what external investments involve (and we also won the program.yayy!).

Before the accelerator, I had just a general idea about this startup process, but now things are more clear for me and also I got a mindset to reset you could say.

So, here I would have another piece of advice for startups: always be ready for networking! ** ** In this past year, I discovered how important it is to network and get outside your comfort zone. I’m an introvert by nature… I don’t feel comfortable in the spotlight and I avoided that as much as possible.

But, for a business to grow, as a CEO, I had to learn how to go and talk about our product in public. I’m still learning how to do it…

Also, by networking, we met a great entrepreneur and human being who agreed to be our advisor. We just started this advisory thing at the end of last year, but it has been very insightful and useful so far.

So, again: network! Even if you are shy, or a developer used to staying behind your computer… go out there and network!

-  
Julia Draghici, on starting CPV Lab Pro ($7,000/month) full story ➜

🌱 How To Grow Your Affiliate Marketing Business

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🏃🏼‍♀️ How To Run Your Affiliate Marketing Business

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How To Retain Customers For Your Affiliate Marketing Business

Retaining customers is one of the most effective ways to grow your affiliate marketing business.

Oftentimes, it's easy to find yourself focusing on generating new customers, vs retaining your current ones.

Look at it this way - you are 60-70% more likely to sell a new product to an existing customer than you are a new customer.

That's not to say that finding new customers and revenue streams is not important, however, the easiest (and most inexpensive) source of new revenue is right there in front of you.

Here are some ways you can retain customers for your affiliate marketing business:

  • Responding to comments on social media
  • Send discounts (or freebies) to loyal customers
  • Provide valuable content, for free
  • Write a hand written thank you note
  • Provide awesome customer service and build relationships with customers

To find out more tips and tricks on retaining customers, check out this article ➜ here

Jan Kovac, founder of Casino Guru dives deep into the process of attracting and retaining customers:

Case Study

As I have said, launching an SEO-based product is not a spectacular event, you turn the switch and the best you can do is to go back and continue working on your product. And that is exactly what we did:

  • Our strategy from the very beginning was to launch several language localizations, so I was searching on Upwork for people who would translate our website and do other work required for the website to succeed in search engine.
  • We have hired the first few people to work on our casino database and other content-related tasks.
  • I was learning a lot about SEO and continuously improving our frontend.

But now I know that while all the above was necessary for our success, we would still fail if we wouldn’t radically change our website design. And that’s where I must admit, we were simply lucky.

I hated working from home because I missed social contact. Therefore I joined one really small coworking space here in Bratislava. And the guy who co-owned the space was by a chance an excellent graphic designer. We were casually discussing our project and he thought, that considering niche, our website should be more colorful.

Eventually, we agreed to give it a chance and try to make a complete redesign. The chemistry between the software engineer with strong structural and analytical thinking and a photoshop wizard with great visual feeling and a lot of UX experience worked really well and within 2 weeks we have designed, a website with the potential to evolve into what casino.guru is today.

Design of bonus section - the one which was the first to get traction

Casino list - the most important page

Then after 3 months of very intensive programming in November 2016, we have finally launched this new frontend and, as it goes with SEO-based projects, continued pushing forward without seeing any instant traffic increase.

The following months I consider the toughest in my whole career. The funding of this whole project consisted of roughly 30k EUR of my savings and two salaries of senior SW engineers. The other co-founder never stopped working full-time and at this point, we knew that I need to get a full-time job as well to pay the salaries of all the people who were already working for us.

So I got a full-time job, worked 8 hours in the job, and continued 3-4 more hours on casino.guru. I was working at least 1 day every weekend. We were pushing all our free time and everything we made (on top of live expenses) into the project without earning a penny for the next few months. It went so far that we had set a deadline, if our website won’t be making X EUR/month in 6 months from a certain day, we were decided to abandon this project. In the end, at some point, the company owed us 130k EUR in both our salaries and direct expenses.

Ask a lot of questions and listen to the answers rather than preach your opinions. Be always ready to change your opinion if it seems to be wrong, be open-minded.

Fortunately, we never had to face such a decision. After few months our website started to grow on one market and we made our first 13 cents. Some people say that it’s most difficult to earn the first million, I say that the most difficult is to earn the first 13 cents.

With getting more and more traction our revenues grew rapidly month over month and within few months we were break even. If I remember correctly, the break-even month (not counting our salaries) was June 2017. That’s when the struggle turned into a growth journey. We still had an insane amount of work ahead of us but we were at least making money. Hiring every new employee or subcontractor made business sense. And after few more years of hard work, improvements, and growth we are where we are.

-  
Jan Kovac, on starting Casino Guru ($773,000/month) full story ➜

Diversify Your Product Line

Adding new products to your business is a great way to expand into new markets and grow your business.

It's important to note that adding new products and diversifying may not be in the cards for you right this moment, and that's okay. You can always consider it down the road.

Here are some reasons you may want to considering adding/diversifying your product

  • Meeting the needs of your customers
  • Establish yourself as a top provider in your industry and stay ahead of the game with competition
  • Resistance to downturns/trends fading
  • Create new revenue streams

Resources

We put together the best resources on the internet to help you start your affiliate marketing business.

Tools

Books

Web Resources

Videos

Case Studies

meet the author
Pat Walls

I'm Pat Walls and I created Starter Story - a website dedicated to helping people start businesses. We interview entrepreneurs from around the world about how they started and grew their businesses.