Did you know that a whopping 81% of brands use affiliate marketing?

It's a booming industry, and it's about time you get a slice of that pie. Affiliate marketing as a side hustle can be your golden ticket to financial freedom — and who wouldn't want that, right? 

Affiliate marketing — with its passive income potential — is more than just a buzzword. It's a real opportunity. And with the right approach and persistence, that side income can easily help you earn extra income or even replace your regular paycheck.

So, we're here to help you develop the right approach for your affiliate marketing strategy!

We'll guide you through affiliate marketing and its benefits. Then we'll break down (step-by-step!) how to start an affiliate side hustle.

Ready? Let's dive into it!

Understanding affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is a popular strategy to drive sales and generate significant online revenue.

Sound complicated? Well, it's not rocket science. All it involves is recommending products you appreciate to your network, and if they buy — you get a share.

It's a modern, digital take on the age-old word-of-mouth marketing. 

Here's how it works:

  1. Join an affiliate program: Your first step is hopping on an affiliate program, like the Amazon Associates Program, for instance.
  2. Promote their products: Once you're part of the team — start promoting their products on your website, social media platforms, or any digital space you own.
  3. Earn affiliate commission: When someone purchases a product through your affiliate link, you earn a commission, i.e., a percentage of the sale. Ka-ching!

Seems pretty simple, right? And while it seems simple, it takes some experimenting until you make some serious dough.

But it's not like you have to invest endless amounts of time and money into your affiliate marketing side hustle. Here's why:

Low InvestmentYou only need a digital platform to promote products.
FlexibleGot a 9 to 5 job? A family to raise? Dogs to walk? Cool! You can do this anytime, anywhere.
Passive IncomeCreate it once, and it could keep making you money without touching it!

Don't sweat it if you're still a little confused. Like a good game of chess, it takes some getting used to.

But remember, every chess grandmaster was once a beginner!

How to start your affiliate marketing side hustle

Now that you understand what affiliate marketing is, let's cover how to start your affiliate marketing side hustle.

After all, why put off until tomorrow what we can do today?

1. Selecting a niche

In the wild world of affiliate marketing, picking a niche isn't just like selecting what socks to wear today (although Argyle is always a solid choice).

It's the foundation of your whole business. And it's like choosing the location for your dream home! So let's build this house right.

Pick something you're passionate about

Why go with a passion, you ask?

Here's why: 

  • It's easier to sell products you're excited about. Your target audiences can tell if you genuinely love what you're promoting and will gladly join your bandwagon.
  • Creating content is less of a grind when you enjoy the topic. Suddenly, blog posts, review videos, podcasts – they don't feel like chores but more like heartwarming storytelling.
  • You're more likely to stay motivated. Affiliate marketing is a marathon, and it's easier when you genuinely care.

Once you have your passions in mind, it's time to head to the next step: checking the profitability.

Choosing a Profitable Niche 

Now, as much as passion is key, we need to earn money.

So, you've got to ensure your passion has the potential to make you some moolah. 

Here, let us guide you through: 

  1. Research and list your interests and hobbies. Think wide and far. Love cats? Possible niche. Obsessed with smart home technology? Bingo! Another niche!
  2. Identify products or services within your interest areas. Cat lovers may love the special grooming product you use. Or smart home technology fans could love the amazing Alexa-enabled microwave.
  3. Do a competition analysis. The ideal niche has a balance of demand without heavy competition. So check who your competitors would be using Google, social media, and other search tools.

We know it's not easy to choose a profitable niche.

Staking your entire business in one niche seems daunting. But it doesn't have to be. So, to help out, here are some niches that could be profitable for you.

You don't have to use these side hustle ideas in particular, but maybe they can give you some inspiration:

NicheExamples of Products
Health and FitnessDiet plans, Exercise equipment, Supplements.
BeautySkincare products, Makeup, Haircare products.
TechnologyComputers, Software, Gaming equipment.
Vegan LifestylePlant-based foods, Vegan clothing, Eco-friendly products.

Remember, it's not about becoming a master of all trades. It's simply about becoming a master of your niche.

2. Creating a platform

There are numerous platforms you can use to flex your affiliate marketing muscle.

Your challenge? To weave these products seamlessly into your platform so they don't just feel like random plugs in your content. They need to seem natural and genuine.

Here are some platforms to consider: 

  • Blogs: Ideal for comprehensive product reviews or how-to guides.
  • Social media: Instagram & TikTok are perfect for promoting flash sales or limited-time offers.
  • Email newsletters: Excellent for providing personalized recommendations.
  • YouTube channels: Great for visual product demonstrations.

You can choose any combination (or all) of these platforms to promote your products.

An affiliate marketing side hustle includes spreading your content to all platforms

There are blogs that do reviews and pull in tons of affiliate revenue. And there are Instagram-only accounts that break the internet with their content.

It comes down to what you enjoy and what you'd like to promote.

Here at WP Tasty, we always recommend using WordPress as a hub for your affiliate products.

WordPress is pretty much the Swiss Army knife of content management systems.

It's not just for blogging anymore. You can set up an affiliate marketing website, create a digital store, or categorize your product reviews effortlessly.

Let's look at the reasons why: 

Easy to use:You don't need to be a coding guru to get your site off the ground.
Customizable:Its array of themes and widgets allow you to make your site as unique as you.
SEO-friendly:You don't need to be a coding guru to get your site off the ground.
PluginsPlugins like Tasty Links, MonsterInsights, and EasyAzon make your affiliate marketing life faster and simpler.

Remember, the goal here is to make your affiliate products feel right at home.

Break down your niche, and choose the platform you feel benefits your style best!

3. Joining the right affiliate programs

Finding the right affiliate program can be like sifting through sand for diamonds — Challenging but oh-so-rewarding when you hit that sparkly jackpot.

Now, before you get started, there are some different affiliate program types you should know:

  1. Pay Per Sale (PPS): You get paid a percentage of the sale when a purchase is completed.
  2. Pay Per Click (PPC): You earn when visitors click your affiliate link, even if they don't purchase anything.
  3. Pay Per Lead (PPL): You get paid when visitors provide their contact info on the merchant site.

Now that you understand these models, let's discuss the programs themselves.

Don't take a leap of faith into unknown affiliate programs.

Go for the names that ring bells. I'm talking about high-quality programs and networks like: 

  • Amazon Associates: With a broad range of products, Amazon's affiliate program is a great place to start your affiliate journey.
  • ShareASale: This is a massive affiliate network with thousands of products to promote, providing plenty of opportunities!
  • CJ Affiliate: If you want tons of retailers, CJ Affiliate can offer that range — and then some.
  • ClickBank: A great choice for beginners due to its user-friendly platform. Bonus: they offer high commission rates.

Just because the program is popular doesn't mean you should automatically apply

When choosing an affiliate program, consider: 

  • Relevance: The program's offerings should align with your content's focus or your audience's interests.
  • Commission: Compare commission rates for similar products in different programs.
  • Reputation: A trustworthy program is less likely to leave you high and dry at payment time.

Once you find the programs that meet these requirements, it's time to dive in.

4. Generating traffic through quality content

Quality, reader-first content is the secret sauce to this whole operation.

You've heard the phrase, “Content is King”? Well, that's no joke in the digital marketing world. Broadcasting nifty, valuable, and catch-your-eye kind of content is what ropes in and retains the audience.

But you shouldn't post content without research! How else will you know what your audience is searching for?

And that leads us to Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Optimized content and Google rankings are best friends. If you want your content to rank well on Google (and who doesn't?), here are a few tips: 

  1. Keywords: Picking the right keywords is like picking the right outfit. It needs to fit just right. Use SEO tools to find these ‘perfect-fit' keywords and include them in your content and meta descriptions.
  2. Readable and Engaging:  Big blocks of text? A big no-no. Break that text up into easy-to-read chunks, maybe throw in a few bullet points or a dash here and there — make it digestible!
  3. Meta Descriptions: It's like the trailer for your content. Make it catchy and include your primary keyword.
Google Search and autocomplete keywords

You may say, “But I'm not making content for Google. I'm making it for [Instagram/YouTube/Pinterest/insert here]!” Your process will still be similar! You'll simply use those tools to do your research instead of Google.

But if you want to truly increase your content, you should spread it across all channels.

And that's where you need to promote your content.

5. Promoting your content

Picture this: you've put in the hours and created killer content for your affiliate marketing side hustle, and now, you're waiting for the magic to happen.

But there's more to do! 

It's time to wear that marketing hat and get your content noticed. After all, how can people find you when you simply post on the internet? There's so much content to sort through. There's no guarantee people will find you.

We mentioned one way above (SEO), but let's explore a couple more ways to get your content in front of buyers:

  • Harness the power of social media: Post, engage with your audience, use hashtags — ultimately be social. It's called social media for a reason.
  • Ol' reliable email marketing: It may sound old school, but it works. Offer free products (like eBooks) to attract an audience and build your list. Then give them value (while promoting products).

Remember, consistency is key in promotion. No matter which strategies you choose, stick with them, measure your success, and adjust as needed.

Tweak those dials, turn those knobs, and soon enough, you'll see your incredible content getting the praise it deserves.

Don't just build it — promote it!

6. Monitoring, analyzing, and optimizing your performance

Keeping tabs on your affiliate marketing performance is like having the pulse on your very own money-making heartbeat.

If you've got your fingers on that pulse, you'll always know how healthy your online business is. Without this information, you might as well put a blindfold on and hope for the best. Not an advisable strategy, trust us!

But you can't exactly analyze your data with a magnifying glass and a set of tweezers, can you?

Below, find a list of some powerful tools that will do the job without straining your eyes (or your brain): 

  • Google Analytics: Like having an eagle-eye view of everything happening on your website — who's visiting, where they're coming from, and even what they're up to.
  • SEMRush: SEMRush is your tool if you want a deep look into SEO. Understand your website's SEO performance and strategize accordingly.
  • All in One SEO (AIOSEO): If you're writing on WordPress, AIOSEO connects to Google Search Console (GSC) and gives you up-to-date information on your performance in the search results! 

These are just a few of the products we recommend. Be sure to try different ones out and see what works best for you.

Example Google Analytics dashboard

So, what do you do now that you've got data?

You optimize, that's what! Here's a breakdown:

  1. Understand your audience: Use your analytics tools to determine who your audience is, what they like, and what they engage with. Then, give them more of what they want.
  2. Test different approaches: Don't be scared to mix things up. Experimenting is a beautiful thing. It helps you learn what works and what sinks like a lead balloon.
  3. Keep an eye on your competition: Know what your competitors are up to. There's no harm in learning from others — especially when they're successful!

By staying on top of your data, checking your performance, and continually optimizing your strategy, your affiliate marketing side hustle will soon become the main event. 

Ready to start your affiliate marketing side hustle?

Tasty Links product image with admin options.

Monetizing your site shouldn’t be hard. Tasty Links makes it easy by managing all your affiliate links and magically inserting them into your posts.

Don’t forget about our 14-day money-back guarantee! Trying out Tasty Links is risk-free!

Here you are, ready to set off on your affiliate marketing adventure.

So, let's recap all the nuggets of wisdom we've covered: 

  • Identifying your niche: Find a market space that genuinely interests you and start making money.
  • Picking the right affiliate programs: Look for high-commission, trustworthy, and relevant programs.
  • Building your platform: Consider where your audience is and create content catered to them.
  • Creating quality content: Create content that targets value to your audience and conversions for you.
  • Promoting affiliate products: Nobody likes a hard sell. Instead, mix in your affiliate products naturally.
  • Growing and optimizing your business: Keep an eye on analytics to see what works and what doesn't.

So, go out and create something great! We're looking forward to seeing it.

If you're using WordPress, check out the Tasty Links WordPress link plugin for all your affiliate link needs.

Whether interlinking your blog posts to create authority on a subject or monetizing your affiliate links so you don't miss out on any affiliate revenue, Tasty Links makes it easy for you. And your unique links are the only way you get credit, so you don't want to miss out.

Grab your affiliate link manager here.

And if you want to learn more, then check out our guide on earning more affiliate income!