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The Ultimate Affiliate Marketing Guide for Beginners – Step by Step

Editorial Note: We earn a commission from partner links on WPBeginner. Commissions do not affect our editors' opinions or evaluations. Learn more about Editorial Process.

Do you want to know how to start affiliate marketing as a beginner?

Affiliate marketing is one of the most popular ways to make money online. It allows you to add a steady income stream to your blog’s monetization strategy.

In this affiliate marketing guide for beginners, we will explain how affiliate marketing works, and how to get started right away.

Ultimate affiliate marketing guide for beginners

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is when you earn a commission when a person makes a purchase after clicking your unique referral link.

Unlike other ad types which pay based on clicks or views, affiliate marketing works on a CPA (cost-per-acquisition), or CPL (cost-per-lead) basis. In other words, you only earn a commission when someone takes an action such as buying a product or signing up for a free trial.

Because there is less risk for the advertiser, affiliate programs pay out much higher commissions to publishers compared to Google AdSense or other types of ads.

Affiliate marketing requires a more hands-on approach. You have to find a product or service that you believe will be helpful to your users. After that, you have to strategically add it to your blog posts and other areas of your site so your users can purchase the product using your referral link.

To give you a better idea, here are some popular affiliate marketing blog examples.


wirecutter affiliate marketing website

Wirecutter is a well-known product recommendation website from the New York Times. It publishes product reviews and ‘best of’ lists for all types of affiliate products including kitchen tools, home decor, pet supplies, software, and more.

Lucie’s List

lucie's list affiliate marketing blog example

Lucie’s List is an affiliate marketing blog for new and expectant parents. Throughout the blog, you can find buying guides with affiliate links for strollers, car seats, bottles, high chairs, and other baby products.


nerd wallet affiliate website

NerdWallet is another popular website that earns money by promoting financial products to its audience. It publishes reviews on the best credit cards, mortgages, and banking services.

How Does Affiliate Marketing / Tracking Work?

First, you have to find a company or product that you want to promote. You need to select a product or service that you believe will be relevant to your blog’s topic and useful for your audience. The product or company you choose is often called a ‘Merchant’.

Next, you have to partner up with the company by joining their partner program. This makes you their ‘Affiliate’. Some companies also use the terms associates or partners.

Once you have joined their partner program (also called an Affiliate Program), you will get a unique affiliate ID. You will need to use this affiliate ID in all affiliate links that you add to your website to promote the product.

You can promote the product by adding in-depth product reviews, recommending it in your articles, displaying banner ads, sending an email newsletter, and more. All traffic you send to the merchant website with your unique ID will be tracked.

Once a user makes a purchase, you will earn a commission. Your payment is issued once your earnings reach a particular threshold, typically 45-60 days.

How to Get Started with Affiliate Marketing

First, you need to make sure that you are using the right blogging platform, and that you are allowed to run affiliate marketing campaigns on your website.

For example, if you are using, then there are some restrictions regarding the products and services you can link to. For more details see our comparison of vs

On the other hand, if you are on a self-hosted website, then you can add any affiliate link you want and efficiently manage your affiliate campaigns.

If you haven’t created a website already, then you can get started right away. Simply follow the instructions in our step-by-step guide on how to start a blog, and you’ll be up and running in less than 30 minutes.

Next, you need to let your users know how you make money from your website by adding a disclosure page. See WPBeginner’s disclosure page and feel free to use it as a template.

You will also need to add a privacy policy and terms of service page to your blog.

These are among the must-have pages for every WordPress blog. They not only save you from legal issues in the future, but they also help you build trust with your audience.

Finding Affiliate Products and Services to Promote

There are many ways to find products and companies that you can partner up with as an affiliate. Here are some of the easiest ways to find the products you can promote.

1. Become an affiliate for products you already use

First, you need to look at the products and services that you already use and find useful. This makes it easy for you to convince your users about the product since you already know the pros and cons.

Next, you need to go to the product’s website and search for terms like ‘Affiliate program’, ‘Partners’, or ‘Affiliates’. Many companies are actively looking for affiliate marketers to promote their products, so they often add a link to their affiliate page in their website’s footer.

Finding affiliate programs to join

2. Look for products other blogs are recommending

Another way to find products is by looking at other blogs similar to yours. You will be able to find many similar blogs that are using affiliate marketing to make money.

But how do you know that they are promoting affiliate products?

First, look for the obvious and easily noticeable banner ads on their website. Take your mouse to the banner ad, and you will see a link in your browser’s status bar.

finding affiliate links

This link will usually have an affiliate ID. Affiliate ID helps merchants track which affiliate partner is sending them traffic and sales.

Sometimes these links may look like internal links, but when you click on them they will take you to a product website with the affiliate marketer’s ID in the link. You will also find similar affiliate links throughout their content.

3. Join bigger affiliate networks

Another way to find products to promote is by joining affiliate networks. These websites act as a middleman between affiliate marketers and merchants.

You will notice that many products and companies that you want to partner with already use an affiliate network. This helps you quickly find a lot of products that you can start promoting on your website.

In the next section we’ll share more about affiliate networks and our top recommendations.

4. Reach out to companies

If you really want to promote a product but can’t find any information about their affiliate program, then you can simply ask them via email.

Some companies may not be actively promoting their affiliate program. If they have an affiliate program, then they can invite you to join.

5. Bring the right audience to your site

Driving the right audience to your site who really wants to try out the service or product you recommend is the key to affiliate marketing success. Now you might be wondering, how can you drive the right audience from search engines? It’s by ranking your website for investigational intent keywords.  

Generally speaking, there are 4 types of keyword intents:

  • Navigational intent: Users type in the URL on Google to navigate to a particular website. Example keywords: wpbeginner,
  • Informational intent: Users need answers to their questions. Example keyword: how wpbeginner makes money
  • Investigational intent: Users investigate a topic that may eventually lead to a transaction. Example keyword: wpforms review
  • Transactional intent: Users are already aware of a product and want to buy it or try it right away. Example keyword: buy wpforms

For affiliate marketing success, you’ll want to rank your blog for investigational keywords.

What are Affiliate Networks? Why You Should Join Them?

Affiliate networks act as a middleman between you (the affiliate marketer) and merchants (companies that want to sell their products).

For merchants, they provide their platform as a service to list their products, track affiliate traffic, manage affiliates, and send payments.

For affiliate marketers, they offer an easy-to-use platform to search for products, sign up as an affiliate, and track your campaign performance and earnings.

Following are some of the most popular affiliate networks that you can join.

  • ShareaSale – One of the largest affiliate networks with many high-paying affiliate products for almost every category imaginable. For example, the popular WordPress hosting company WP Engine uses ShareASale to manage its affiliates.
  • CJ Affiliate (Formerly, Commission Junction) – Another top affiliate network with a huge number of merchants and products neatly organized in categories and easily searchable. Companies like GoDaddy, Expedia, and many others use CJ.
  • ClickBank – This is a large online marketplace for selling digital products in various categories from different vendors. It is easy to use and has tons of learning resources for new affiliate marketers.
  • Amazon Associates – Amazon is the world’s largest eCommerce store with millions of products. You can sign up for their affiliate program and start earning by sending people to a website they already use for their online shopping. See this guide on how to build an Amazon affiliate store in WordPress.

Which affiliate networks should you join?

You should join affiliate networks that have the products you want to promote. You can join multiple affiliate networks for different products. We use all the above networks and a few others.

Make sure that you always check the network program policies. You also need to review the program policies of individual products and merchants. This will give you a clear idea about your earnings, payments, additional incentives, and more.

Affiliate Marketing Tips to Increase Earnings

Now that we have covered the basics, let’s dive into some more tips on how to actually make money from affiliate marketing.

1. Choose good products and companies to promote

As an affiliate marketer, you don’t have control over the future of products that you are recommending. That’s why you need to make sure that you are recommending the best products from reputable companies.

The best way to do this is by recommending the products and services that you have actually used. If you want to recommend a product that looks useful, then feel free to contact them to learn more.

If you ask nicely, most companies will gladly offer you a free account or copy to test their product or service.

2. Keep your audience in mind

Keep your website’s audience and their interests in mind when choosing the product. For example, if you run a fashion blog, then you would want to promote fashion accessories, clothing, and similar products that your audience would want to buy.

You also need to make sure that you are not just recommending products because they are offering higher commissions. If a user buys a product based on your recommendation, and it doesn’t turn out useful, then they will never trust your recommendations again.

3. Offer highly useful and valuable content

You can add affiliate links and banners anywhere on your WordPress site. However, simply adding links will not result in convincing your users to actually buy those products.

You need to convince your users by offering useful and valuable information about the product. Many affiliate marketers do that by writing in-depth product reviews, video reviews, product comparisons with pros and cons, and more.

4. Start an email newsletter

Promoting affiliate products in your email newsletter is another powerful way to boost your affiliate income.

That’s because email marketing is direct and ongoing. Once people sign up for your newsletter, they’ll regularly receive awesome deals and product recommendations directly in their inbox.

To convince people to subscribe to your newsletter, you can use a tool like OptinMonster.

The OptinMonster lead capture plugin

OptinMonster is the best email capture tool on the market. Using the drag and drop builder and 400+ built-in templates, you can quickly create eye-catching newsletter optin forms.

Check out this guide to learn how to build your email list in WordPress with OptinMonster.

5. Sell dropshipping products

Aside from promoting affiliate products on your website, you can also diversify your income with dropshipping.

Dropshipping is where you accept customer orders without keeping any products in stock. When a customer purchases a product from your site, you place the order with the original vendor and they’ll ship the product directly to the customer.

You can learn more in our step-by-step dropshipping guide for WordPress.

Affiliate Marketing Plugins and Tools for WordPress

As your blog grows, you will be recommending a lot of different products. This will make it difficult for you to manage all the affiliate links, banners, and ads spread all over your website.

Luckily, there are excellent affiliate marketing tools and plugins for WordPress that you can use to help with management.

1. ThirstyAffiliates

ThirstyAffiliates plugin

Manually adding links to your content becomes quite difficult as your site grows. You will have to copy the URL with your affiliate ID every time you mention the product and paste it into WordPress.

This is where ThirstyAffiliates can help. It is an affiliate link management plugin that allows you to easily add affiliate links in WordPress.

It also lets you change lengthy affiliate links into cloaked pretty links which are more user-friendly.

ThirstyAffiliates also has the option to automatically replace keywords with affiliate links, which can significantly help you boost your affiliate revenue.

2. AdSanity

adsanity ad management plugin

AdSanity is the best WordPress ad management plugin and a must-have for every affiliate marketer’s toolbox. It allows you to create banner ads from your WordPress site and manage them from a single dashboard.

AdSanity also makes it easy to insert ads into your WordPress posts, pages, and sidebar widgets. You can use it to manage your third-party ads like Google AdSense ads and banners as well. For detailed instructions, see our guide on how to manage ads in WordPress with AdSanity.

3. MonsterInsights


MonsterInsights is the best Google Analytics plugin for WordPress. It allows you to see where your users are coming from and what they do when they are on your website.

It also helps you track your outbound affiliate links using Google Analytics. This enables you to find out which affiliate links are clicked more often and helps you discover missed opportunities.

track top affiliate links with monsterinsights

You can see all of this important data in a single, easy-to-read report right from your WordPress dashboard.

MonsterInsights can also detect if you’re using ThirstyAffiliates to manage your affiliate links. That means it can automatically track all your affiliate links, no matter what link prefix you’re using.

Other powerful MonsterInsights features include eCommerce tracking, file download tracking, forms tracking, and much more.

Need more tools? See our full list of top affiliate marketing tools and plugins for WordPress.

We hope this ultimate affiliate marketing guide for beginners helped you learn how to become an affiliate marketer. You may also want to see our ultimate WordPress SEO guide to bring more visitors to your website.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

Disclosure: Our content is reader-supported. This means if you click on some of our links, then we may earn a commission. See how WPBeginner is funded, why it matters, and how you can support us. Here's our editorial process.

Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff at WPBeginner is a team of WordPress experts led by Syed Balkhi with over 16 years of experience in WordPress, Web Hosting, eCommerce, SEO, and Marketing. Started in 2009, WPBeginner is now the largest free WordPress resource site in the industry and is often referred to as the Wikipedia for WordPress.

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Reader Interactions

48 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Syed Balkhi says

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    Did you know you can win exciting prizes by commenting on WPBeginner?
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  2. Moinuddin Waheed says

    I want to know about the target audience while planning for an affiliate product.
    so if I am in India and I want to target a product that is mostly used in United States or United Kingdom.
    as these countries have a good affiliate commision structure.
    is it viable as a blogger to make such an endeavour?
    or it is always to target the local audience?
    I mean thinking globally due to internet.

    • WPBeginner Support says

      You do not need to target a local audience when you set up an affiliate marketing site. As long as users can view your site you can target that audience :)


  3. Ahmed Omar says

    I am just starting my trial in affiliate marketing.
    the post is quite useful and detailed.
    but I have a question, Is it possible to affiliate similar products of two different companies on a single website?
    Thank you

    • WPBeginner Support says

      You certainly can have similar products on one site even if they are from different companies.


  4. Kabsha Majid says

    It’s a good idea to do affiliate marketing using It’s a highly effective method for affiliate marketers. It’s the best way to create credibility among your audience.
    Using affiliate links on Facebook, Instagram, etc. does not work much. Also, you can’t convince someone to take any action unless they trust you and the services you provide.
    You have put a great deal of effort into this blog and provided us with a unique guide. Please tell me what I should do to rank my blog for investigational intent keywords. I request you to provide a complete guide about investigational intent keywords.

  5. Jon Weberg says

    By far, the most important aspect of affiliate marketing… Is treating it just like any other digital marketing business. People often think it’s as easy as becoming an affiliate, and just posting your link out there in content… When in reality, the most successful affiliate marketing form deadly efficient and great content, advertising, follow up, sales processes, and more.

    But, taking it one step at a time first before one gets a better understanding, is more then acceptable!

  6. Abdul Hanan says

    Is it possible to affiliate similar products of two different companies on a single website? Let suppose, clothing affiliate program of amazon and walmart on same site.
    If yes, do you recommend it?

    • Biswajeet says

      Yes, you can in fact promote as many products you want from as many affiliate companies. However, it’s wise not to.

      I would recommend sticking to 2-3 companies at a time and promote products only if it fits in your niche.

  7. Alina says

    Such a great information. Been wasting time searching internet, till I found all the info I need in one place. Thank you!

  8. Kavita Podar says

    I just came across your blog post and must say that it’s a great piece of information that you have shared. This is really helpful content and must be shared across. Great blog post!

  9. Neil says

    Need help.
    Which to do first, create a blog about a product or apply for affiliate program?

    • WPBeginner Support says

      You would want to have a site with content before applying for an affiliate program


  10. Farhan Jabbar says

    Thank you so much!

    Such a wonderful write up; straightforward, easy to understand with deep insight!

    This article really helped me to understand the core of affiliate marketing.

    Keep it up!

  11. Hussnain Iqbal says

    Thank you for the article, I found it helpful. But a question remains in my mind: the affiliate program only works if you have enough traffic going through your website. Now, my website is new and my traffic is a desgrace. Any ideas on how to tackle that?

  12. Harish Kumar says

    such amazing ideas to start a blog on different niches. Really a useful post with clean and clear details. Thanks for sharing this post. Keep sharing.

  13. rajuchalna says

    affiliate marketing sense and also seems helpful for small business, Thank you for this information.

  14. John says

    Awesome post. Usually I never comment on blogs but your article is so convincing that I never stop myself to say something about it. You’re doing a great job Man,Keep it up.
    can i use your website link and this information for my audience. i want to publish it to my people so that they can go deeper inside and for me it could be easy to convince them

  15. Sanjay Sajeev says


    Very useful and informative post.
    I have a doubt about affiliate link. How many affiliate link can I add in a blog post.
    I have written a blog post that contains 1500 words. I need to add 13 affiliate links. If I add that much affiliate links, will it badly affect my site’s SEO? Please clarify my doubt

    • WPBeginner Support says

      It would depend on what you are writing about and how you are writing the article for how that would affect SEO, more links shouldn’t be a large factor unless it is adding no value to your users.


  16. Cash Teachers says

    Thank you for this extremely helpful information! It’s a useful post regarding affiliate marketing & in fact, this is one of the best list & points on the subject.

  17. Grahame says

    Hello wpbeginner People,

    Thank you for a very straightforward introduction to the world of Affiliate Marketing. I’m looking forward to the journey and just starting out. For me, I’m just as enthusiastic about the challenge of gaining success for its own sake, as the financial rewards it may hopefully bestow on me. There are so many variables involved and putting the whole thing together feels like attempting a 40,000-piece jigsaw puzzle with a hangover.

    Keep up the good work and I wish you continued success, I’m sure you’ve earned it.


  18. Angie Cox says

    I’m in the process of creating a new blog now and have decided on a niche to focus on. I’d like to implement affiliate marketing as soon as the blog launches. Was wondering if affiliate networks require those requesting to become affiliate marketers to have a certain number of followers before approving the request to join the affiliate program? Generally, what types of requirements have to be met when applying to join an affiliate network? I’d hate to apply then get rejected because I haven’t met the minimum requirements, if those exist. Thanks!

  19. Bob Schaffer says

    I have yet to implement all the tools you have shared and recommended in this article, but I really like the way you explain things. It is written in a very easy-to-read style, and ho hype or exaggerated comments. Now I have to get busy and take the necessary time to study, and implement, your recommendations. Thank you for all that you have shared.

  20. David says

    Thanks. I looked into affiliate marketing once, and wanted to set up a product review site. I got stuck looking for a good theme – any suggestions for a WP theme (paid or unpaid) that plays well with product reviews?

    And plays well with AdSanity – which looks interesting?

    Looking at it from the other perspective – where would a product manufacturer go to find affiliates?

  21. Dhananjay Satanure says

    Hey Syed,
    Do you have any Personal Experience that Affiliate Programs, PAY?
    Or just this is fake program to, I mean the company tell us to Promote their product and do not pay to us?

    • WPBeginner Support says

      Hi Dhananjay,

      Yes we have used affiliate programs, and yes they do pay. If you join a large affiliate network, then those payments are mostly automated.

      Companies that don’t pay affiliate partners risk losing their reputation and will have hard time finding affiliate partners in the future.


  22. Shahla Banu says

    Affiliate marketing works well as long as one is getting good traffic. A lot depend on what percentage of US traffic does one get on his blog (in case he’s promoting products useful for US audience). So, it’s always good to choose right affiliate programs, write good content and do social media marketing.

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