You’ve heard all about affiliate marketing online or from a friend and now you’re excited to get started with your own affiliate sites.
It’s at that point you realize you have no idea what to do next.
So in this helpful piece of content we’re going to look at exactly how you can go about learning affiliate marketing.
The different types of affiliate marketing
There are two basic forms of affiliate marketing.
- Where you promote the products or services required by affiliate marketers but without ever having made any money from affiliate marketing itself.
- You build affiliate sites that promote a variety of products or services on commission.
The first model is basically a case of “fake it until you make it”, and is the single biggest mistake I see new affiliates making i.e. trying to become a name in the affiliate industry.
It requires telling a lot of lie and typically making false income claims.
That’s why we’re only going to talk about the second model – building affiliate sites, which is an ethical and enjoyable way to make money.
And yes, these sites can actually earn income while you sleep.
Where to learn affiliate marketing
You really only have two choices for how you go about learning affiliate marketing, with obvious pros and cons to each approach.
Buy an affiliate marketing course
Buying a course means you can bypass the learning curve involved in figuring things out by yourself. And to be fair, there are some excellent courses for you to choose from.
The pros of buying a course on affiliate marketing include:
- Potentially gentler learning curve
- Get your site profitable in months rather than years
- Choose a profitable niche the first time around
- Avoid gimmicky Internet marketing scams
- Avoid mistakes that cost time and money
- Get advice from experts instead of novices
But all that glitters is not gold – there are also some significant downsides to buying these types of courses.
- You have to hope the person selling the course knows what they’re doing/is telling the truth
- Affiliate marketing courses typically cost between $997 and $4,997, so there’s a significant investment involved
- The courses that cost more than $997 are usually just a cash grab that involves access to a Facebook group where “students” all help each other
- Some of the processes taught in certain courses are so convoluted and complex that they are a combined waste of time and a deterrent to progress
- There’s no guarantee of success
- People who buy affiliate marketing courses make just as many mistakes as people who don’t.
- You’re taught what to think but not how to think
And that final point is the real problem with relying solely on courses – you don’t have to think because they try to do all of the thinking for you.
This then results in Facebook groups filled with people who just bought the course who have as many questions as people who are trying to figure out affiliate marketing on their own.
My experience has been that 95% of people who buy courses on affiliate marketing never actually finish them – some of them never even start them.
Instead they head straight for the Facebook group/board and start posting questions like “How do I do x” even though their question is answered in the first module of the course they just paid for.
Courses can’t teach people who don’t want to learn.
No matter how much money you spend on them.
Also, if you notice that the person or people behind an affiliate marketing course keep subtly shifting their business model, or make “mistakes” that they then joke about, ask for a refund.
Teach yourself affiliate marketing
Your next option is to go solo and teach yourself affiliate marketing as you go along, either by watching YouTube videos, experimenting or reverse engineering what other bloggers do.
Hint: Reverse engineering what other bloggers/affiliate marketers do is a very, very smart approach.
Teaching yourself how to build an affiliate marketing business obviously has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.
Pros of teaching yourself affiliate marketing
- You won’t have to invest thousands of dollars in a course
- You will learn an entirely new set of skills
- Teaching yourself a skill means you never forget it
- You will learn things that are never taught in any affiliate marketing course
- By the time you’ve finished building 2 or 3 affiliate sites you won’t need a course
And on that last point by the time you finish building your first affiliate site you’ll know how to register a domain name and set up DNS, how to set up web hosting, how to configure a basic website/WordPress blog, write content, etc.
These are skills with real-world value i.e. you’ve acquired a set of skills that have a dollar value for employers, if that’s the route you choose to take.
An experienced affiliate marketer will make most employees in an average SEO agency look like rank amateurs.
Cons of teaching yourself affiliate marketing
- The process will take much longer – typically years instead of months
- You’ll probably invest a lot of time and money on 2 failed sites before you find a winning formula
- You could easily jump from one site idea to the next without actually finishing anything
- YouTubers teaching affiliate marketing are often some of the biggest liars you’ll find outside of politics
- People who aren’t resilient to failure tend to quit after a few months of not seeing results
What choice should you make?
If you were a close personal friend or family member I’d tell you to teach yourself the basics first like doing niche research, registering a domain name, buying web hosting, build a basic WordPress website (super easy with Elementor) and publish your first few pages of content.
These should be the bare minimum of skills you force yourself to learn for the sake of your business.
Your total cost for doing the above will be no more than $100 and however many hours you put into it.
If you do all of the above and still find yourself struggling for answers, maybe then consider buying a course.
Doing that will give you access to structured lessons on specific topics – lessons that will fill in any knowledge gaps in your existing foundation skills.
But please do not rush out and buy an affiliate marketing course for $2,997 to start off.
There are courses than cost 1/10th as much but still offer tons of value.
The final thing to note here is that learning affiliate marketing is a marathon and not a sprint.
If you rush out off the starting line expecting to be pocketing tons of cash within weeks you’re in for a rude awakening.
Because affiliate marketing is not a get rich quick scheme.
It’s a real business that takes real effort but can be incredibly rewarding if you’re willing to be patient and work hard.
It’s really that simple.