If you’re here, it’s likely you’re interested in affiliate marketing. You may have just started out, or maybe you’ve been at it awhile, but you’re looking for a dose of motivation on how you could boost your affiliate earnings–either way, I plan to share my strategy for how I earned my first affiliate sale, and what you can do to get the same results.
- 1 My Family Before Affiliate Marketing
- 2 Making Money as a Freelance Marketer
- 3 My Epic Fails when I Got Started in Affiliate Marketing
- 4 How I Learned The Right Way to do Affiliate Marketing
- 5 The 5 Steps I Used to Make My First Affiliate Sale
- 6 How My Affiliate Commissions Have Grown Since my First Sale
- 7 Conclusion
My Family Before Affiliate Marketing
Prior to 2015, I was the breadwinner for my family. I was Active Duty in the military as a single mom for 4 years, then I got married in 2011 to a Ghanian citizen, which meant we needed to go thru immigration and job transition.
After 10 months of immigration processing, my husband got a visa and moved to the US with me and my son. We were happy to be together, but it was tough to acclimate and get a job. My husband was diehard about making an income of his own, so he decided to use the skills he had to help people in our neighborhood.
He was very handy, so he started to offer to cut people’s grass, then the offers progressed from there. Eventually, the idea went from cutting grass to doing full home renovations! His growing business started to develop, he got more and more customers, and I started feeling like maybe I should separate the military.
We lived comfortably while I was in the military, but when complications happened in my son’s school and talk of moving me to another base came up, I decided to separate to focus on being a mom, wife, and business partner.
It was tough for my husband to manage doing the work, acquiring new customers, and other backend things, so I decided to help out in the business. I ended up doing more work on the site than in the office. Some of the work required long hours in the sun, exposure to chemicals, and heavy lifting. In 2016, I got pregnant and I started to feel less able to manage working in the business, homeschooling my son, and being a new mom.
Making Money as a Freelance Marketer
I started doing freelance marketing work which enabled me to work from home and make a good income, then my son started having serious health challenges. He had been in and out of the hospital several times, and I couldn’t balance caring for him, caring for the new baby, and managing a client load.
As a result, I started being serious about affiliate marketing in January 2018. I saw it as a way to make an income that’s not a direct time-money exchange. It was a way to tend to my kids, have a flexible work schedule, grow a business, and make a good income.
My Epic Fails when I Got Started in Affiliate Marketing
When I started studying affiliate marketing, I knew I could earn from placing affiliate links to Amazon in blog posts, but I had done the process all wrong!
I had a Christian lifestyle blog, and I was only placing affiliate links to low ticket products, so the earning potential was low. Added to that, I didn’t know search engine optimization, and I was primarily using Facebook organic marketing for traffic, which was like a roller coaster.
I had an inconsistent flow of traffic to low ticket offers, which meant I wasn’t setting my self up for success AT ALL.
How I Learned The Right Way to do Affiliate Marketing
After having the struggles in my personal life, debt, piling medical bills, and growing expenses from a growing family, I was desperate to make my blog work more than ever. I loved writing. I enjoyed social media marketing, graphic design, and blogging, so I decided to learn how to turn my passion into a business.
I remember having a serious talk with my husband about how badly I wanted our financial situation to change, and affiliate marketing was my best idea. He supported me, and encouraged me to get some good training. I took several courses where I learned how to:
- Build a website
- Generate traffic
- Pick good affiliate offers
- and so much more
But I became the most engaged with Wealthy Affiliate because it was the training, software, and education platform that I felt I learned from the most. I was able to ask my questions, exchange ideas with other affiliate marketers and entrepreneurs, and learn how the business worked very thoroughly.
The 5 Steps I Used to Make My First Affiliate Sale
On March 3 (a little over one month after starting this site), I wrote a success post saying I had earned $112.25 from two sales I made thru affiliate marketing: one for $100 and the other for $12.25. Here’s a brief sentence from the post:
“I’m so excited to say I’ve earned my first sizeable commissions thru affiliate marketing AND I earned the money from the sites I started on 1 February! “
The first sale is so exciting because:
- It proves the process works
- It boosted my confidence that I can do it
- and it made money!
I want you to have the same experience! I’d love if you were able to get your first affiliate sale and many more, so let me tell you the 5 steps I took to make my first affiliate sale.
1. I Set up a New Website
Since I had lost my direction with my Christian lifestyle website, I decided to start a new site. In February 2018, I started How to Entrepreneur (the site you’re on now). Since I had experience with starting multiple businesses, and I’m passionate about how entrepreneurship benefits the economy, I decided to start a website about how to start or grow businesses (with a specialty in affiliate marketing).
I used Wealthy Affiliate’s website builder, domain registration platform, and hosting to build my website, so it was much easier than alternatives I’d used before. You can create a free website using their website builder by entering the domain name you want below.
2. I Chose Affiliate Programs with Good Commission Structures
When I had “dabbled” in affiliate marketing prior to really studying it, I had been promoting low ticket offers. I was mostly linking to Christian books from my blog posts–this meant that I was driving traffic to a blog post that only offered a book for sale. Considering that Amazon pays 5% or less for book sales, and many people buy books used, the chances of getting more than a $1.00 commission was very low.
In order to make a lucrative income with a $1.00 commission, you have to sell LOTS. OF. PRODUCTS. Most people want to make $1000 or more every month to live an ideal lifestyle. Many people want more than that!
To make $1000/mo with a product that earns you $1.00, you have to have lots of traffic and sales. Even worse, if you sell 1000 of them in one month, it’s not enough to stabilize a monthly income. You have to repeat the process of selling 1000 products every month. Since every person coming to my website (or any website) isn’t going to be a buyer, I’d need more than 1000 people coming to my site, and likely more than 10 times that!
When I started my new website, I decided to do the math upfront, and set realistic expectations of how I could achieve my financial goals. I Rather than focus on products that might earn me $1.00 or less, I decided to focus on products that would earn me $20 or more.
I shopped around with independent affiliate programs and affiliate networks for products and services that would be relevant to my target audience. If the product had a recurring commission and it’s something I feel comfortable sharing with others–that’s a win-win!
3. I Set up an Aggressive Content Publishing Challenge
I started my new website with a 90-day challenge. For 90 days, I decided I would post one post per day. My 90-day challenge helped me to:
- Solidify new content habits
- Improve my craft
- and Get results faster
You can start a challenge and track your goals with my free editorial calendar template here.
4. I Started Getting Traffic to my Content
To say I was getting traffic in my first month is amazing, but at the time, I thought I was horrible at it. I laugh when I go back and read my early affiliate marketing posts. Most sites don’t get traffic in month one if they’re relying on search engine optimization for traffic, and I knew that, so I optimized my posts for SEO, and drove traffic using Microsoft ads.
When users use Bing or Yahoo and type in certain keywords, I was bidding for my website to be shown in the search results–this enabled me to get traffic before Google had started ranking my website organically. Added to that, Microsoft ads tends to be cheaper than Google ads, so I was not spending what I would spend on Google (or even on social media platforms!). I was paying as low as $0.05 per click for my traffic, which is VERY INEXPENSIVE!
In some cases, you can pay for traffic online, and the cost can be less than handing out business cards offline!
5. People Bought Products I Recommended — Cha-Ching!
The articles I paid to drive traffic to were very thorough and built trust, context, and authority with my site visitors enough that they decided to buy what I was recommending! As a result of their purchases, I made two commissions that I noticed a little over one month after really learning how affiliate marketing worked.
How My Affiliate Commissions Have Grown Since my First Sale
The first sale was exciting, but I wasn’t able to predict when my 2nd or 3rd sale would come. I wanted to earn a predictable income, and not simply have fluke commissions here and there.
As a result, I committed to repeating the 5 steps I told you earlier, but I quit ads for about one year. Since my personal finance situation was rocky, I didn’t want to take on the risk of losing money with ads (even though I did make sales).
With ads, there’s always an upfront risk. You can use calculations to forecast return on investment, but considering that human behavior can vary, the calculations can be off, so there is a risk.
As a result, I focused my effort on creating good and helpful content and sharing it with people who might be served well with it. Now, I’ve been doing affiliate marketing for more than two years, and my income has grown incrementally from there.
I’ve done several videos to display my learning lessons, income growth, and traffic growth. I started documenting everything at my 15th month because prior to that, I was ashamed of my results. You can take a look at any of my income and traffic updates here:
- 15th Month Update
- 16th Month Update
- 17th Month Update
- 18th Month Update
- 19th Month Update
- 20th Month Update
- 22nd Month Update
- Most Recent Update
Many of my personal situations didn’t subside after I started affiliate marketing. We still had many health scares, I spent months without childcare and worked from home, and despite everything I was balancing, my business continued to grow incrementally. It’s been a joy!
Affiliate marketing has enabled me to be present for many of my families’ most precious moments, and bring in an income at the same time! I can’t say I earn all of the income and benefits I had in the military just yet, but that took me 9 years to build. I can assure you, at the rate my business is growing, it’ll take me much less than 9 years to pay myself and give myself the benefits I had while I was in the military.
If you’re looking to learn how to make your first sale as an affiliate marketer, or how to ramp up your sales, I’d love to help you out. I recommend you checkout my free e-course All About Affiliate Marketing to learn more.