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You’d love to make an extra $500, $1000 or more a month from a side hustle project. So you Google and YouTube ‘Best Side Hustles’ and the side hustle ‘Start a Blog’ or ‘Start an Affiliate Website’ idea will often come up.
- So What is an Affiliate Website in a Nutshell?
- The types of articles found on affiliate websites
- You can make money with a blog/content website in 4 main ways
- Why You Can and Should Build an Affiliate Website Quickly
- How to Build an Affiliate Website Quickly
- 1. Find a niche — it’s easier if it’s an interest, hobby or part of your lifestyle
- 2. Pick a cool domain name
- 3. Choose a web host
- 4. Set up your website using WordPress or other website platforms and builders
- 5. Select a theme that showcases your content clearly and is easy to use
- Don’t spend too much time finding a theme. The content matters more.
- The articles are the products on an affiliate website.
- Get design inspiration from successful affiliate marketing websites
- Blocksy is a great looking theme that’s free and easy to use
- 6. Add a logo
- 7. Write and publish content
- 8. Add legal policies such as privacy, terms and conditions, disclaimers and affiliate disclosures
- 9. Connect up Google Analytics and Google Console and request Google to index your website
- 10. Launch your website
- 11. Start monetizing ASAP
- 12. Further ‘over the shoulder’ learning
So What is an Affiliate Website in a Nutshell?
An affiliate website is primarily a content website with affiliate links to various companies’ products and services. If a visitor to your website clicks on one of these links and makes a purchase from your link, you will get an affiliate commission from the company.
So a reader may land on a page on your website titled ’10 Best BBQ grills’ from doing a Google search for BBQ grills. In this article, you will have written 10x BBQ grill recommendations and these may all link to the respective BBQ grill seller on Amazon (or other BBQ grill retailers). If the reader clicks one of these links and ends up buying the BBQ grill, then you will get paid a referral commission fee from Amazon (or the BBQ retailer).
The types of articles found on affiliate websites
- Product reviews for example: ‘Best BBQ grill’ or ‘Ahrefs vs SEMRush’.
- How to guides for example: ‘How to Screenshot on Mac’ or ‘How to Buy Dogecoin’.
- Any other content you think your audience may be interested in for example: you may write a story that solves a problem or directly answers a question, it may be a story on lessons learned, personal stories, commentary or entertainment pieces.
You can make money with a blog/content website in 4 main ways
- Affiliate links
- Display ads e.g.Google AdSense, Ezoic, MediaVine and AdThrive
- Sponsored posts
- Selling your own or other companies’ digital or physical products, services, or courses.
So if you like the idea of building a niche website to monetize, and have a topic you’re passionate about, like writing, SEO, playing with WordPress or other website building platforms, then this side hustle could well be worth exploring. These components can be also be outsourced if there are certain areas you don’t enjoy doing.
Why You Can and Should Build an Affiliate Website Quickly
Building a simple affiliate website is easy to get started. You need access to a computer and an internet connection and you’re basically ready to get going.
I’m a great believer in adopting an MVP (minimum viable product) approach to starting pretty much any new project or side hustle. If you get a basic website launched, you can then start to apply to companies to add affiliate links and to ad networks to add display ads onto your website, let Google know it’s launched so your website can be indexed, start marketing your website to your network on social and other platforms, and start analysing your website’s data i.e. the number of visitors, what posts they’re clicking on and so on.
You can then start to test new articles and marketing strategies to see what works and then double down on those efforts. This beats just predicting and guessing, or constantly watching more YouTube videos and just ‘learning heaps more’ (I’m totally guilty of this) and not actually applying it to a real website to see actual results. You won’t have a chance to make any actual money from your site until it’s launched out into the real world.
How to Build an Affiliate Website Quickly
So here are the basic steps and components to getting your affiliate website launched quickly plus mistakes I’ve made which slowed down the process.
1. Find a niche — it’s easier if it’s an interest, hobby or part of your lifestyle
Come up with a list of ideas for your website’s niche. It’s a lot easier if you start with topics you’re interested in or hobbies you’re already passionate about. You’ll already have an unfair advantage as you already know the terminology, the subject, the cool hacks, the problems and so can most likely talk about many aspects of the topic till the cows come home.
Once you have a list, start Googling these ideas and see what websites come up. Then have a look at ones similar to what you’d like to do and see the ways they’re monetizing their site and the companies they’re affiliates for.
To find more affiliate programs for your niche, you can search for a topic e.g. outdoor affiliate program, or a brand/company name e.g. Nike affiliate program, or search for affiliate network platforms to find suitable affiliate programs e.g. ShareASale and ClickBank.
Use keyword tools to estimate the popularity/volume of your topics
You can get an idea of the popularity of your niche by typing in some topic keywords related to your niche using Keyword SEO tools to check the monthly search volume of those keywords.
Two such tools are the Ahrefs Free Keyword Generator (shows you the first 100 keyword ideas) and Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest (free for up to 3 searches/day). These tools also give you the estimated keyword difficulty to rank for those terms.
As a new site, you generally have a better chance of ranking your articles on the first page of Google if you target low difficulty keywords. Even if you go for a popular niche, you can usually find low difficulty keywords by targeting long-tail keywords in your niche.
2. Pick a cool domain name
Brainstorm domain name ideas using domain name generators such as Nameboy. If your preferred domain name is taken for the extensions you wanted, you could try using a tool like Related Words to come up with some alternative word ideas to describe your niche.
Also search if the social platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok are available for that name at Namecheckr.
Then also check the relevant trademark databases to see if the name is already taken for your industry’s classification and regions where you’ll be conducting your business (this is not legal advice).
Then buy the domain name from a domain registrar like Namecheap (they include free Whois domain privacy). Or you can buy website hosting from a company like GreenGeeks or BlueHost and they usually include a free domain name registration for the first year (usually a .com, .net, .org, .info or .biz extension).
3. Choose a web host
You can Google ‘best web hosting’ and you’ll find countless articles recommending various website hosting plans (btw, web hosts give pretty good affiliate payouts — usually around $50 to $65 per affiliate sign-up).
I use the GreenGeeks Pro plan (they’re a 300% green hosting platform) as it includes a free domain registration for a year, unlimited websites, web space, email accounts, databases, free SSL certificate, hosting account isolation and more for $5.95/month for up to 3 years.
4. Set up your website using WordPress or other website platforms and builders
Once you’ve chosen a web host like GreenGeeks for example, you can install WordPress easily and quickly using their Quick Launch Wizard and follow the prompts.
According to W3Techs, WordPress is the content management system (CMS) used by over 65% of all websites using a known CMS. This represents 43.1% of all websites (since some sites may be built with just static pages for example).
Some of the reasons I like using WordPress are: it’s free, it’s an open-source platform, there are over 59K plugins (to add more functions to your website), and over 9.1K free themes.
Apart from WordPress, there are also other website platforms and builders such as Webflow, Ghost, Squarespace and Wix. These companies provide web hosting as part of their service. Some also provide you with a free domain name registration for a year. Some users may prefer these services over WordPress as the process of building a website may be more user-friendly with a drag-and-drop user interface. But the designs and customization options could be more limited than WordPress.
5. Select a theme that showcases your content clearly and is easy to use
Let’s say you’ve decided to go with building a WordPress website, the next thing you’ll need to do is select a theme. The theme determines the overall appearance and layout of your site. You can customize different layouts for the various sections of your site such as the blog section, the store component, the gallery pages, the contact form and about page etc.
There are over 9.1K free WordPress themes to choose from in the WordPress Theme Directory. Many of these themes have a premium (paid) version as well to access more features and customization options. You can also buy a theme from theme marketplaces such as ThemeForest, and independent theme developers/sellers such as Studio Press and Astra.
Don’t spend too much time finding a theme. The content matters more.
You can literally go deep down the rabbit hole spending weeks (or even months 🤪) reviewing hundreds of themes in an attempt to try and find the ‘best’ theme for your website (believe me, I’ve been there). You can end up becoming overwhelmed looking at all the demo themes and the countless customization options in terms of the layout, design, colours, fonts and more. They all start to meld into each other and you’re not even sure which one is the ‘better, slicker’ looking theme by the end of it all.
Furthermore, if you’re new to WordPress, there’s also a ‘bit’ of a learning curve involved in learning how to customize these features to achieve the desired layout and look you want. You can then go down a further rabbit hole trying to learn how to use the WordPress Website Builder your theme uses e.g. Gutenberg, Elementor, Divi, or the theme may have its own custom site builder interface and options. So you could then be spending even more time doing a course to learn Elementor for example, just so you can customize and use your theme.
So after going through that colossal loop of trying to find the ‘perfect’ theme and then learning how to customize the theme and be able to add content to the site myself, I’d now tell myself (with 20/20 hindsight vision) to just get started with a very simple and easy to use theme so that I can launch my site in a couple of weeks rather than in say 6 months time.
If you want to launch your site asap and try to monetize it sooner, it’s much more important to add more articles/blog posts to your site than it is to spend lots of time just tweaking the design of your site, and fussing over getting the perfect logo designed etc.
The articles are the products on an affiliate website.
You can display ads and relevant affiliate links sprinkled throughout your article and on the right-hand sidebar for example. You want to get more articles posted and indexed by Google and hopefully ranking on the first page of Google. So if people do a search on your topic, your article will be served by Google, people will click on your article, and maybe click on your affiliate links as your product recommendations provide the product or solution they were looking for.
So you want to go for themes that showcase your content clearly and makes it easy to navigate and scroll. The design and layout of these themes may look like news and magazine sites, or a grid layout like YouTube’s home page feed which displays thumbnails in a rows and columns format. You also want to choose themes that are fast to load and mobile responsive. According to Statista, over half of the world’s web traffic was from mobile devices (excluding tablets).
Get design inspiration from successful affiliate marketing websites
For some real-world website design and content inspiration, check out Niall Doherty of eBizFact’s article titled: 35 Affiliate Marketing Website Examples. And How Much Money They Make. Featured websites include Smoked BBQ Source which makes $100k/month and Well Kept Wallet makes $50k/month in revenue.
If you like the design of a website and are curious to know if it’s a WordPress website, you can find out by typing in the URL at Builtwith. If it’s a WordPress site and you can then find out what theme the website uses at What WP Theme Is That.
Some of the most popular WordPress themes used to build affiliate marketing websites are: Astra, Divi, Neve, Generate Press, OceanWP and Blocksy. Just Google or YouTube ‘Best affiliate marketing website themes’ for more suggestions and details about these themes.
Blocksy is a great looking theme that’s free and easy to use
One of my favourite simple, easy to use WordPress themes suited to affiliate marketing websites is Blocksy. I found it easy to use and customize as it has a very intuitive user interface. It also has a range of one-click ready to import starter websites so you get building and launched even faster. I found the features and functionality in the free version of Blocksy to be more than sufficient to build a complete website with.
6. Add a logo
I wouldn’t spend too much time or money trying to design or commission someone to design the ‘perfect’ logo (at least initially). You may want to give your website a unique, bold brand identity later down the track, but content should be the top priority in the beginning. You can create your own logo using an online tool such as LogoMakr or the Adobe Creative Cloud Express Logo Maker to start with.
7. Write and publish content
The first goal is to get about 10 or so articles written to fill out the menu items and main sections of your website so that when a visitor comes to your website, it looks like a ‘complete’ website.
The initial pages should also include an About, Contact, and Legal pages including a Privacy page, Terms and Conditions, Affiliate disclosures etc.
There are two main types of content that help you monetize your affiliate marketing website.
- Articles that target a buyer’s intent for clicking on an article. These articles may be product reviews, comparisons, roundups, recommendations, buyer guides, or special offers for those who are already looking for a product but just want to know which type or model best suits their needs and budget etc. These people may search for things like: ‘Best office chair for students’ or ‘Dyson vacuum cleaner’.
- Articles that are informational in nature. These target people who are earlier on in the buyer journey. At this stage, the searcher may just want to learn more about the topic, but aren’t necessarily ready to make a purchase yet. These types of articles would include more general ‘How to’ and definition/ explanation type articles for example ‘How to lose weight’ or ‘What is the Keto diet?’.
The Better Marketing Medium publication features a great article by Pawan Kumar titled: Here are Some Amazing Blog Post Ideas In 2022. These include doing a search on Buzzsumo, Twitter or YouTube for ideas, or looking at the Q&As on platforms such as Quora, Facebook and Twitter.
8. Add legal policies such as privacy, terms and conditions, disclaimers and affiliate disclosures
(Disclaimer: This does not constitute legal advice and is provided for informational purposes only).
You want to make sure your website and online business is legally protected and complies with various laws and regulations. You can Google ‘Legal Policies for Websites’ or similar and you’ll see a range of Legal Policies available. These include a range of options from free WordPress plugins to websites that generate free and paid versions of various legal policies with different levels of customization available. You may also want to seek professional legal advice to ensure your website and business is adequately covered for your specific situation.
9. Connect up Google Analytics and Google Console and request Google to index your website
Once your website is ready to launch, be sure to connect your website up to Google Analytics and Google Console to start tracking data and activity on your website.
Google Analytics enables you to analyze audience, acquisition, engagement, and monetization data. You can learn more about how to interpret the data from the free Google Analytics Academy courses.
The Google Search Console provides information about your organic-search traffic. “You can see data like user queries and the number of times your site URLs appear in search results (impressions), along with post-click data about site engagement like bounce rate and eCommerce conversion rate. This combination of data helps you optimize your site for the most profitable traffic.” (Source: Google Analytics Help).
You can also submit a sitemap to Google via the Google Search Console to let Google know to crawl and index your site. Or you can request indexing for a URL via the URL Inspection Tool.
You can learn more about how to use Google Search Console by following the Search Console Training playlist over at the Google Search Central YouTube channel.
10. Launch your website
Hurray! You’ve created your website, added 10 or so articles and are ready to launch your minimum viable product website out to the world! Congrats!
Start by telling your friends, family and network via direct messaging and via your personal and professional social accounts such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and Pinterest.
Then continue adding new content and perhaps consider doing some of the following activities:
- Set up email marketing
- Learn and apply SEO to your articles
- Guest post on relevant websites with a higher domain authority
- Build backlinks
- Participate and answer questions on relevant forums and groups in your niche
- Line up interviews to be a guest on podcasts in your industry
Review what’s working and double down on those efforts.
11. Start monetizing ASAP
Start researching and applying to companies to become an affiliate for their brand. Then start creating articles and adding relevant affiliate links to these companies’ products and services.
Also look at the traffic numbers required to join the display ad networks like Google Adsense (no minimum), Ezoic, MediaVine and AdThrive and apply when you’ve met their program entry requirements.
Then hopefully you’ll be on your way to making an extra $100, $500 or more income every month from your affiliate website. Then keep learning and scaling your website’s growth and income!
12. Further ‘over the shoulder’ learning
If you’d like to ‘watch over the shoulder’ of how to create an affiliate marketing website from start to launch then check out these great videos.
Ferdy Korpershoek’s video:
How To Create An Affiliate Marketing Website | For Beginners 2022
WP Eagle’s videos:
Make an Affiliate Marketing Website 2021 with WordPress & Thrive — Beginners Tutorial
How to Start an Affiliate Marketing Website (Seriously Quick, Cheap and Easy)