There are many ways to make money with WordPress. You can become a freelancer (complete with your own portfolio website), open up an online store, or sell WordPress themes and plugins.
Another possibility is to build your own affiliate website. Affiliate marketing is an interesting option because you can essentially earn money in your sleep. All you need is a website, traffic, and products you are willing to advertise. The rest sort of happens by itself.
If that sounds good to you, in this article you will learn how to create your own affiliate website using WordPress. We will explain what affiliate marketing is, what kind of affiliate websites you can start, where to find products to advertise, how to set up the site and tools to do so.
Time is money, so let’s get started right away.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Before anything else, let’s first clear up what exactly we are talking about when we say affiliate marketing.
Basically, affiliate marketing means that you recommend someone’s product on your site by linking to it. The link (a so-called “affiliate link”) contains information that identifies visitors as coming from your site. When one of them completes a purchase, the merchant knows you helped make that sale and pays you an agreed-upon commission.
This is slightly different from ads where you get paid merely for eyeballs on the ad banners, regardless of whether somebody clicks on them or not. Still, affiliate links can also be used in ads, the difference is just that you only get money for completed purchases.
Advantages of Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is a very common and very successful business model on the Internet. For good reason. It offers several advantages:
- No need to come up with or create your own product
- Very low upfront costs
- Low risk, no need to purchase inventory
- eCommerce infrastructure is not your responsibility
- Possibility to earn money independent of time and place
Sounds good, right? However, of course, there are also some drawbacks.
Disadvantages of Affiliate Marketing
We already talked about the fact that you only get paid if a purchase actually goes through. So, if you can’t convert anyone to click on the links and actually buy something, nothing will come your way.
Secondly, commissions vary across different programs. Some only offer low percentages. You can still make this work but need to keep in mind that it takes a lot more traffic and clicks to earn a full-time income.
Talking about traffic: one of the biggest “disadvantages” is that for an affiliate website to work, you still need to figure out how to build a successful website, get traffic and convert visitors into buyers. If you have never done so, this will be your biggest hurdle and take a lot of effort and energy.
Types of Affiliate Websites
If you want to build your own affiliate website, you can choose several ways to do so, each with its own strengths, weaknesses, pros, and cons. Here are some examples.
Daily Deals Website
Daily deals work in a way that you offer discounts on products for a limited amount of time. One of the most popular examples of this model is Groupon.
The site lets you purchase coupons for different businesses for a limited time that gets you steep discounts.
Daily deals are a proven business model, however, they also come with some competition. If you go this way, much of your work will be trying to close deals with businesses to put on your site. Can be lucrative though!
Price Comparison Site
You know this kind of site. Search for a product and they provide you with prices from many different online shops and sometimes user reviews. When someone clicks through and makes a purchase, the site gets some percentage of the sales price.
This option requires you to set up a system that collects and updates prices from all around the web. This can be complicated. However, once it is in place, much of it works automatically.
A classic of the affiliate marketing world. Just sign up to an affiliate network of your choice, review products to help others decide whether to purchase them or not and place affiliate links inside your content. To make things even more helpful, you can also include other user reviews or compare products.
Another popular example is to create a niche blog and include affiliate links to related products. Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income uses this approach.
He publishes content on many topics that have to do with setting up own online business and earns commissions (to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars) from recommending hosting providers and other stuff you need to build a successful website.
In order to build your own affiliate website, you need to choose whichever option is the most fitting for you. Of course, you can also create a mix. Product reviews can also be a staple of a blog and vice versa.
We will talk about this further below, however, before we can get started, we need to find products to sell. Let’s look at that next.
Where to Find Affiliate Marketing Opportunities
When looking to sell affiliate products, you have the choice of two main avenues.
First of all, there are a number of well-established affiliate networks that connect merchants to possible affiliates:
These networks offer products for all kinds of niches from electronics, movies, books to online courses and much more. Almost anything you can think of you can find on here.
The disadvantage: commission rates differ a lot. For example, Amazon, the biggest fish in the pond, only pays between one and three percent, slightly more if you bring in a lot of buyers. You will have to either make a lot of sales or only recommend high-ticket products to make this worth your while.
A better idea might be to try and find companies in your niche who offer their own affiliate programs. For example, the WordPress sphere is full of them. From hosting providers to theme and plugin authors, many companies offer affiliate programs with healthy commission rates of up to 50 percent!
The advantage this way is that it allows you to choose something you are passionate about or at least interested in. This is important since you will have to create a lot of content on your topic to rank well and sell products. If you are really bored by your niche or don’t care at all, this will be hard to keep up.
To find companies, google “your niche + affiliate/become an affiliate/affiliate program”. ThemeIsle also has a list of WordPress-related affiliate programs.
Build Your Own Affiliate Website With WordPress
Ok, now that we know where to find products and have decided on our site type, it’s time to start building the actual site. This is not much different from setting up any other WordPress website: install WordPress, choose a theme, add plugins, and start creating content.
However, in this case, you need to come up with content that will help you convert visitors into buyers. That means it needs to be high quality enough to be picked up by search engines and move visitors to take action.
For that, you first and foremost need to concentrate on delivering value. Help the people coming to your site make a decision. Give them all the information they need to make a purchase. Here are some types of content especially suitable for this:
- Review posts
— You can build entire sites around just review posts. When doing so, try to bring something new to the table that visitors can’t learn anywhere else. Answer common questions and objections, try to be objective and helpful. Maybe offer alternatives to the product.
- Comparison posts
— Find leading products in your industry and show how they compare to each other. Great content, especially if you have affiliate links for both of them. We did it here with two of the most popular SEO plugins (but without affiliate links).
- How-to posts
— How-to posts offer lots of opportunities to include affiliate links. Show people how they can solve their problems and give them the tools to do so. If some of them are affiliate products, even better!
- Product roundups
— Very popular content type. Combine several products from the same category in one post for plenty of earning opportunities. Especially if you update the article, it will continue bringing in traffic and income.
While the ideas above are a good start, you can also place affiliate links in other places. Pages, case studies, interviews, and all other content where it makes sense. For example, a good idea is to create a resource page with everything you are advertising in one convenient place.
However, as mentioned, you also need to engage in other activity to make your affiliate website a success. Don’t forget about web design, keyword research, SEO copywriting, site speed and other important markers of a high-quality website.
Useful Tools and Plugins
Of course, WordPress offers plenty of plugins and tools to make things easier. Here are a few of them.
User reviews are a great way to supplement your content. They are an indicator of trust and move others to purchase. The plugins below can help you set them up.
- WP Review
— Helps you create product reviews including star, point and percentage ratings. Compatible with Schema rich snippets. A premium version is available.
- WP Product Review Lite
— Another review plugin, this one also allows readers to add their own reviews to your content. Includes options for affiliate links.
- Rich Reviews
— Purely for user reviews. Includes rich snippets, the ability to moderate submissions and much more.
- All In One Schema.org Rich Snippets
— Mark your own reviews with rich snippets for Google.
Managing your affiliate links is paramount. For example, if one link changes it’s easier to be able to adjust it in one central place instead of having to go through your entire site and change all instances.
- Pretty Link Lite
— A simple way to clean up your affiliate links. Generate your own short links, track clicks on affiliate links and more.
- Thirsty Affiliates
— Comprehensive link management tool. Insert links into a content, cloak or insert them automatically. Can also tell you a lot about each link’s performance and a lot more.
- Amazon Link
— Link management especially for Amazon products. Find products directly from the WordPress backend and send visitors to their local Amazon store.
As mentioned, daily deals are a good way to earn affiliate income. Use the plugin below to create coupons for your own website.
- Magic WP Coupons
— Plugin to easily set up coupons for different stores and insert them into content via shortcode. A premium version is available.
- Coupon Creator
— Another plugin for coupon creation. Comes with multiple themes, expiration dates and a lot of other features.
Additional useful plugins to create your own affiliate website:
- Yoast SEO
— One of the best SEO plugins out there. Make your site magnetic for search engines. Check our detailed instructions here.
— Free email marketing service up to 2000 subscribers. Stay in touch with customers and send out your latest offers. Read our beginner’s guide here and instructions on how to link it to WordPress here.
- Rel Nofollow Checkbox
— Don’t want to give affiliate links too much link juice? In that case, this plugin adds a simple checkbox to the WordPress editor to turn them into no follow links.
Of course, there are also plenty of themes made for affiliate websites and you can find many of them here:
Affiliate marketing is a valid way to make money with WordPress. Advantages are plentiful, including low costs, low risk, and the ability to generate passive income.
There are several ways to build your own affiliate website and a few business models to choose from. Whichever way you go, WordPress makes it easy to get started and gives you plenty of tools.
However, keep in mind that it takes time. You probably won’t get rich over night. Affiliate websites need effort just like any other online business venture. However, if you keep moving forward, try out new things, learn and take calculated risks you are sure to find success in the long run.
Do you have a WordPress affiliate website? Any other tools you can recommend or tips you have to share? Tell us in the comment section below!