Being part of an affiliate network can be highly lucrative, but you already knew that. The hard part is setting up a great website and getting it to the point where you can start raking in a sizable income from daily deals and sales coupons, price comparison, review websites, or a combination of the three. Fortunately, you have everything you need and more for your affiliate purposes right here on WordPress. With an easy to use-and-setup, SEO-friendly, and highly versatile platform for your website, you’ll be wanting for nothing.
In this post, I have compiled for you a checklist of resources and steps for creating an affiliate website on WordPress (because really, it’s the best choice), and then getting it to succeed.
- Hosting – Websites that load fast rank consistently higher on Search Engine Results Page, and good hosting is a step in the right direction for that end. Choose the best web host for your WordPress website and make sure it’s secure, reliable, and super-fast. Good providers include Bluehost, SiteGround, Inmotion Hosting, Media Temple, HostGator, etc.
- Domain – As long as it’s easy to remember and related to your niche, you’ll be okay. Think of long-term use. Try to keep it short and sweet. Providers include Namecheap, GoDaddy, etc.
- Theme – An awesome WordPress theme will not just catch eyeballs, it’ll also pack some amazing features you would otherwise have to work in via plugins. Premium multipurpose WordPress themes like X, KLEO, Divi, etc. are pretty great, but there are plenty of free ones to look out for too like Vantage, Spacious, Modern, etc. Make sure it looks stunning and loads fast, and always download from trusted sources only.
- Product (and content) Niche – Matt Cutts (of Google fame) advises every blogger to create content on a subject they’re passionate about. Every bit of working and in-depth knowledge you have in a subject will reflect in your content, making it more legit and relatable. Make sure to choose an affiliate network and product niche that complements your knowledge base.
- Content– This is what everything comes right down to. Publish great content, consistently related directly to your product niche, and keep doing it until you reach your goals. Be warned: this will test your patience.
Once you’ve researched the necessary ingredients, it’s time to get started:
1- Setting up Shop:
With WordPress, this will take little effort.
Once you have purchased a domain name and settled on a hosting plan, you will need to download WordPress and install it. See the famous Five-minute Installation page on WordPress codex for a more comprehensive look at the same. Follow the instructions and you’ll have a WordPress website up and running in no time.
Next on the list is setting up the website to your specifications. This is where you’ll add the theme and plugins you’ll need. You must get:
- Backup: Mandatory for automated backups, a quality backup plugin will give you a safety net in times of distress (locked out or hacked, for instance). Always be prepared with a solution like BackupBuddy, ValutPress, UpdraftPlus, BackWPup Free, etc.
- Security: Your website is only as secure as you are vigilant about it. Get a good security plugin early on to make your website safe and keep it that way. Tools like WordFence, Sucuri, etc. are the best in class. Also keep the WordPress security guide handy for further hardening against attacks.
- Performance: W3 Total Cache has you covered with powerful script minification and compression features and support for a wide range of web hosts and CDNs for blazing fast loading speeds. Other WP plugins like EWWW Image Optimizer (compresses images without losing quality), P3 (to check plugins for individual loading times), etc. are also recommended.
- Spam Prevention: Every website with (or without) an open comment section attracts a crap-load of spam. The only possible solution is to deal with it. WordPress already packs Akismet’s powerful antispam features but you can amp those up with another plugin like WP SpamShield Antispam.
- SEO: Get All in One SEO pack for all your optimization needs. Further boosts can be made with Schema.org rich snippets, WPML (translation plugin), Broken Link Checker, and conversion oriented, UX-friendly website design.
- Social Media: Take a look at Page.ly’s list of top 15 social media plugins to narrow your search field, because there are thousands of those for WordPress.
Install these firsthand and then come to the theme of your choice.
Tip: Keep the number of plugins to a minimum to ensure faster loading speed and fewer compatibility issues.
2- Choosing an affiliate network
Once you’ve decided on your product niche (after thoroughly evaluating your own expertise and interests), it’s time to become an affiliate. Programs like Amazon Affiliates, ShareAsale, CJ Affiliate by Conversant, Affiliate Window, etc. are popular. You can also become an affiliate for independent programs and/or brands. Check for ‘Partners’ or ‘Become an Affiliate ’links in the brands’ website footer for more information.
- Make sure to choose your products wisely and adjust your content strategy accordingly.
Your earnings depend on the number of people you can successfully convert (convince) to buy the product(s) you are posting about. The more people you convert, the higher your income. The commission you earn is a part of the product’s retail price.
So promoting cheaper products will need you to convert more people, but then people are also more likely to buy things they can actually afford. Similarly, promoting expensive products will earn you higher commission-per-sale, but your audience will be more difficult to convince to part with, say, thousands of dollars on a product. Choose wisely.
- Do NOT promote shady brands and products just to squeeze commissions. The bad publicity of that product will not only sink the brand, but will also take your own website down with it. The eWOM (electronic word-of-mouth) alone will put a huge, likely irreparable dent in your credibility and it’s bye-bye business from that point on.
- Do NOT assume that readers are morons. Know that if you publish lifeless schlock to market products, people will be able to see through it. No one wants to read a ‘manufactured’ review based on zero hands-on experience or knowledge.
Look at it this way: If you don’t care for photography and have no earthly idea about DSLRs and lenses and filters, you won’t be able to talk/write about them. And if you try, people who are, in fact, passionate or even professionals about and in those very things will be able to see through that immediately. Who would take you seriously then?
Content is key to successful conversion: Do not make the mistake of treating it as filler.
- Stay on topic. If you have a specific product niche, stick to it. Don’t make heel-face-turns at random intervals and go posting about personal care appliances this week and iPhones the next. Users expect consistency.
- Do not ignore recurring deals for subscription, license renewal deals, etc.
3- Tools of trade
Since there’s no classification criterion, you (the merchant) get to decide what to put up on your affiliate website. The following are generally seen:
- Daily Deals: Websites like Groupon, Living Social etc. earn their income by collecting discount deals from businesses and manufacturers, and offering those on your website for anywhere between 20-50% of individual sale price as commission.
For this purpose, Built-for-coupons WordPress themes like Kupon is pretty great with features like paid front-end submission, coupon countdowns, social sharing integrated, etc. Otherwise, you can get similar features via WooCommerce Coupons Countdown (extension) or Magic WP Coupons Lite. Go through the feature list thoroughly before downloading.
- Price Comparison: Websites like PriceRunner show the various online vendor prices of each product for users to compare. They may also have user-posted reviews and a ratings system for products. The income is generated based on number of clicks and visitors you send to the vendor’s site.
WordPress has the amazing Price Compare theme for this exact purpose in mind. There’s also the Go – Responsive Pricing and Compare plugin to create all your pricing, comparison, and even scheduling tables in beautiful, responsive, high-def clarity, complete with logos, prices, dates, etc.
- Product Review: Every product niche has a review website. Take dpreview for instance. These websites can make a killing from bulks of superb, legit content by making up a loyal readership, selling ad space, and earn referral commission based on number of people who click on the vendor link and/or make a purchase.
To this end, The Review, with its review-rating system is your theme, or you can choose practically any magazine/blog style theme for this purpose.
Plugins like Taqyeem Ratings and Reviews, WP Product Review, etc. will give you similar functions on any theme of your choice.
Once you start posting great quality content on your website, it’s time to make sure that all of it sees the light of the day. Learn to drive traffic to your website (content rules for this) using measures like keyword searches, competition monitoring (a simple alert on Google can take go a long way), a keen social media strategy, and great efforts on SEO.
It’ll take time and patience, but as long as you have plenty of awesome content you’ll built a strong and sustainable rep.
How are you faring? This step helps you find out.
Performance and conversion monitoring is essential to find out just how well or badly you’re doing, are you even on right track, and what are the areas of possible improvement. Tools like Nelio A/B testing (WordPress-centric), KISSmetrics, OptimizePress, etc. integrate well with any WordPress website and help you keep track of your visitors and the ways they are interacting with your website.
Google Analytics is the mother of all these tools. It takes some getting used to, but the comprehensive metrics and tracking features are astounding and can provide profitable insights if you put some effort into learning it. Here’s a detailed guide on setting up Google Analytics on WordPress websites (along with some tips for businesses).
There are no shortcuts to creating a name for yourself in the affiliate network of your choice. You’ll have to put every bit of patience and canniness you have into it.
But once you’ve achieved the goal: the rewards will be worth it.