How to Build an Audience for Affiliate Marketing: 3 Simple Steps to Success!
The main challenge for most new affiliates is getting eyeballs (and clicks) on their affiliate links.
There are many different ways to drive affiliate traffic, but if you choose to build an audience for affiliate marketing, this can significantly boost your income! You can actually cultivate your own audience as an asset for your business, instead of constantly having to generate new leads to continue making affiliate sales.
Think about it: most people who visit your affiliate landing page or website will never return. But if you build an audience, you enjoy a captive market that you can nurture and earn affiliate income from for years and years!
Sounds great, right? The problem is, while most newbies to affiliate marketing understand the benefits of building an audience, they don’t know where to start or how to make it happen!
So, in this article, I’ll give you 3 simple steps to build your audience by (1) Creating valuable affiliate content; (2) Choosing the best platforms to build your audience; and (3) Monetizing your audience with affiliate marketing.
Let’s dive in!
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Growing an Audience for Affiliate Marketing
These days, attention is the most important currency (with the possible exception of actual money)!
And one of the best ways to cultivate the resource of attention is by growing your own audience.
In this case, the term “audience” refers to the people who consume your content on one or more traffic channels, such as blog readers, email subscribers, social followers, podcast listeners, and members of an online community.
As an affiliate, you can build an audience through paid ads or free organic traffic:
Paid ads might give you a quicker return on your investment, but carry more risk and require you to invest a lot more money upfront.
Free organic traffic can be a great way to build an audience and passive income – however, it typically takes longer for you to see results than you can with paid ads.
However, as you will see in the below example, delayed gratification is often sweeter than instant gratification.
Adam Enfroy, like many other successful online business owners, uses value-based content and organic traffic in his business to build an audience.
In 2022, Adam made $4.5 million from one blog and one YouTube channel – he had multiple income streams, including course sales and sponsorships, but also earned an impressive $1,312,410 in affiliate revenue!
His affiliate site had 2.9 million users, 3.7 million sessions, and 5.7 million pageviews, and his YouTube videos got 3.6 million views for 223,000 hours of watch time.
Paying for that traffic would have been prohibitively expensive and also slashed his impressive 80% profit margins! Instead, he embraced a value-based content system to explode his income.
The “value-based content system” involves the following three steps:
So, ready to embrace the value-based content system to grow your business? Here’s how you can go about for building an audience for affiliate marketing!
Step 1: Create Valuable Affiliate Content
Creating valuable affiliate content involves choosing the right niche, content formats, and channel(s).
To build an audience you can monetize, you need to choose a popular affiliate marketing niche with products that convert.
However, many affiliates make the mistake of focusing too much on high-paying affiliate offers before choosing a niche.
To create high-quality, value-based content that will establish you as an authority and go-to person in your niche, you should choose one you are knowledgeable about or eager to learn more about.
A website or blog must typically contain at least 50 high-quality and relevant articles, comprehensively covering the topic you are writing about, before search engines like Google will take it seriously.
If you focus more on high-paying affiliate offers without caring about the niche, you will struggle to create valuable affiliate content and build an audience.
Creating content takes time, and it can be months before you see the results of your hard work. Try to choose a niche that you are passionate about. Ideally, you should be part of your target audience!
You can create affiliate content in many different formats. These include blog posts and ebooks, videos, podcasts, social media posts, and emails.
It might seem like hard work. However, you can save a lot of time by repurposing your content!
For example, use the content of a blog post to create a YouTube video and embed the video on your blog. It gives people who prefer visual content a better user experience. And the longer people stay on your site, the more relevant Google considers your blog to be – this one thing might give you a nice in the search engine rankings.
You can also use your YouTube videos to create an audio or video podcast users that can download and listen to or watch on their smartphones, tablets, and laptops.
Plus, any images you create for your blog posts or videos can also serve as posts on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram!
Tips and Best Practices
1) Follow the AIDA principle – an acronym for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action.
Create content that:
- Grabs the attention of your audience
- Piques their interest
- Makes them desire the solution you are suggesting
- Tells them what action to take
For example, start by crafting an attention-grabbing affiliate marketing headline to encourage people to read, view, or listen to your content.
Your content should resonate with your target audience and make them feel you are talking to them one-on-one and can help them. And don’t take yourself too seriously – people like content creators who aren’t afraid to show their human side in an informative but entertaining way!
2) Create content for people first, not algorithms
One of the dilemmas often faced by content creators who rely on free organic traffic from sites like Google is how they should optimize their content. And Google is partly to blame.
For years, Google has been saying that you should create content for people, not search engines. However, in the past, many website owners felt if they didn’t put Google first, they wouldn’t get any organic traffic!
In fairness to Google, they have made significant progress in recognizing and rewarding high-quality content. Unfortunately, there is still a lot of outdated SEO content on the web, which is misleading to new affiliate marketers who want to grow an audience with organic traffic.
In December 2022, Google released its helpful content system update to “better ensure people see original, helpful content written by people, for people, in search results.”
According to Google:
“The helpful content system aims to better reward content where visitors feel they’ve had a satisfying experience, while content that doesn’t meet a visitor’s expectations won’t perform as well.
The system generates a site-wide signal that we consider among many other signals for use in Google Search (which includes Discover). The system automatically identifies content that seems to have little value, low-added value, or is otherwise not particularly helpful to people.”
In addition, if your site has a high amount of unhelpful content, it should be removed, as it might compromise other high-quality content:
“Any content—not just unhelpful content—on sites determined to have relatively high amounts of unhelpful content overall is less likely to perform well in Search, assuming there is other content elsewhere from the web that’s better to display. For this reason, removing unhelpful content could help the rankings of your other content.“
According to Google, answering yes to the questions below means you’re probably on the right track with a people-first approach:
- Do you have an existing or intended audience for your business or site that would find the content useful if they came directly to you?
- Does your content clearly demonstrate first-hand expertise and a depth of knowledge (for example, expertise that comes from having actually used a product or service, or visiting a place)?
- Does your site have a primary purpose or focus?
- After reading your content, will someone leave feeling they’ve learned enough about a topic to help achieve their goal?
- Will someone reading your content leave feeling like they’ve had a satisfying experience?
These rules might be coming from Google, but they apply to any traffic source where you’re publishing content for your audience. Addressing their needs is your number one priority as an affiliate.
The more people you can help, the bigger your business will get!
Step 2: Choose a Platform to Build Your Audience
Equally as important as the content you create is where you post it online!
A new website often takes up to eight months to rank well in Google. And although you shouldn’t get discouraged and should create more website content during this period, using other platforms might get you faster results in the interim!
However, avoid using what I call the “shotgun approach” – firing in all directions at the same time, hoping you’ll hit something.
Many newbies believe they should be active on as many platforms as possible, but this approach seldom delivers good results, especially if you’re unfamiliar with all of them at the start. I suggest you become an expert in one traffic channel, rather than be average on several.
Earlier in this article, I mentioned Adam Enfroy as someone who made over $1 million in 2022 from affiliate marketing from only one blog and one YouTube channel. See what I mean? Don’t spread yourself too thin by being on too many platforms!
With that said, here are the best traffic channels to build your affiliate audience:
1) An Affiliate Site
You should have a self-hosted blog or affiliate website where you can post your best content. As good as other platforms might be, they don’t belong to you – you can lose your account and all of your content without prior warning!
Think of an affiliate site as the hub for your business. You can publish resources to attract traffic from other sources and include your affiliate links there to monetize your audience, no matter where they’re starting from!
A blog is also the perfect starting point for building your email list.
Tip: One of the top regrets of successful affiliate marketers is that they didn’t start building their email list earlier. Although your blog might not get significant traffic early on, the sooner you start building your email list, the better.
So, a blog or website sounds like a good idea, but maybe you’ve never done it before and it sounds intimidating!
Don’t worry – I’ve put together a detailed guide to building an affiliate website, and another guide for making your own authority site. We also have a super in-depth course inside of Spark by ClickBank for organic traffic, which includes how to set up your site. Sign up now to get access to “Free and Organic Traffic!”
The bottom line is, you have a lot more control and versatility over your business if you have a home base. Even in a world with Instagram and TikTok, I would still recommend starting out with a website!
YouTube is the second most popular social network worldwide (second only to Facebook) and the second-largest search engine (second only to Google).
By creating videos or repurposing existing content for YouTube, you can build an audience of loyal subscribers to your channel that could provide you with a passive affiliate marketing income for many years.
According to Consumer Insights, 68% of YouTube users watch YouTube to help them make purchase decisions. (YouTube does not penalize videos that include affiliate links in their descriptions)
As I explained in another article about affiliate marketing on YouTube, you can make several different videos to draw attention to your blog or the product(s) you are promoting. It includes:
Pinterest is one of the most popular platforms for bloggers and affiliate marketers to promote their content and affiliate programs.
Unlike many other social media platforms, people often use Pinterest as a search engine for finding and buying solutions to their problems. And with 463+ million monthly users, your target audience is likely active on this platform.
Many new marketers use Pinterest as their #1 source of traffic while their blog is not yet ranking well to get into ad platforms like AdThrive and Mediavine or affiliate programs that only accept high-traffic websites.
As a visual platform, Pinterest is best for images and videos that are visually striking and attention-grabbing. When you post or pin something, you can include a link to your blog content or even link directly to the product you are an affiliate for! However, posting affiliate links may not be the best idea, as you forego the opportunity to build an audience that way.
The only downside to Pinterest is that you have to pin new images or videos all the time to get traction, and they frequently make changes to their algorithm. What works this month often does not work next month!
For more information on opening a Pinterest account, creating and pinning images and videos, and promoting ClickBank products, check out our Pinterest affiliate marketing article.
Over 1 billion people monthly use TikTok for entertainment or to learn something new. It has grown significantly over recent years and has given many other platforms like Facebook and YouTube a run for their money.
For example, Facebook and YouTube had to add “shorts” to prevent many users from abandoning them in favor of TikTok.
To add a clickable link in your bio, you should switch from a personal to a business account and have at least 1,000 followers. And since you can only add one clickable link, consider redirecting users to your landing page or use a service like Linktree.
Read our ultimate guide to TikTok affiliate marketing for tips and examples of affiliate marketing on TikTok.
Many affiliate marketers are on the fence about using Instagram for affiliate marketing. However, with over 143 million users in the United States alone, Instagram has a significant reach and cannot be discounted.
Here are some tips to help you get started on Instagram:
Like other social media platforms, using the correct keywords and hashtags are critical. Use popular keywords and hashtags without too much competition.
For example, #affiliatemarketing has 4,497,068 posts making it too competitive.
Try targeting relevant hashtags with fewer than 200,000 results. Find posts with higher-than-average engagement and create similar but better content.
Learn more about Instagram affiliate marketing in our guide.
With close to 3 billion monthly active users, Facebook is the 3rd most visited website/app – only Google and YouTube get more visits.
Facebook is also one of the best platforms for building an audience – you can create a Facebook group and join groups where your audience interacts with other members and start building relationships.
Participate in groups, like posts, leave comments, and offer helpful suggestions while posting relevant content on your timeline or group.
Do not post affiliate links on groups or come across as someone trying to sell or promote a product. Deliver value and help others!
If you come across as a reputable authority, many members will check out your timeline and send you friend requests. And you should also send friend requests to active members that add new posts and comment and like posts.
Here are some additional tips and advice that apply to all social media platforms:
- Prioritize platforms that your target audience visits.
- Be consistent – post often and at regular intervals.
- Focus on your niche and help your audience.
Never mix content for different niches in one account on any platform. It will confuse algorithms, and you will fail to build a good rapport with your audience.
For example, if your audience is dog trainers, only post content 100% relevant to dog trainers. They probably aren’t interested in your political views or latest vacation photos.
In addition, follow your competitors and other relevant accounts in your space. If your target market is dog trainers, but you primarily follow celebrities, it sends mixed signals to the platform.
You can find out more about affiliate marketing on Facebook in our Facebook guide.
Quora is a popular question-and-answer platform founded in 2009. Since then, it’s grown dramatically and currently boasts more than 300 million active monthly users, many of whom are in the coveted 25-34 year old demographic!
Like YouTube or Pinterest, Quora is actually a search engine disguised as a social media site. You can find tons of questions to answer on the site that are pertinent to your niche. When you answer those questions, you get views – and you have the ability to capture some of them as followers and even point them to your website, email list, or other social platform.
Note that unlike YouTube or Pinterest, Quora does NOT allow direct affiliate links, so you’ll want to have your own website to get the most out of Quora. But as a way to generate exposure for your business and brand, it’s a fantastic option!
If you want to learn more about Quora, check out my in-depth Quora affiliate marketing guide!
8) Email List
We touched on it before, but email is a fantastic way to grow and engage your own audience. I’ll be putting together a guide on different ways to grow your email list for free, but for now, think of the funnel like this:
The idea is to use a traffic source – whether that’s a social media post, a YouTube video, a Pinterest pin, or a podcast episode – and point visitors to an opt-in page. On this page, you’ll provide some kind of lead magnet or incentive in exchange for their email address. Then, you have the opportunity to convert those emails into sales by pointing them to the sales page of an affiliate product you’re promoting.
Of course, email is more than just another affiliate marketing channel. It allows you to hone your messaging and get to know what engages your audience – and you can also sell them your own products, if you have any!
And don’t forget, you can use email to continue to grow your other channels. Every time you post a new YouTube video, blog post, podcast episode, or other notable piece of content, you can let your list know and get your content some much-needed momentum right out of the gate.
Email is powerful. I hope you’ll embrace it for your affiliate business!
Step 3: Monetize Your Audience with Affiliate Marketing
Once you have a following in one or more places online, the next step is to monetize your audience. That is where affiliate marketing comes into play!
As an affiliate, your job is not to “sell” any product or convince your audience to buy it. Your goal is simply to make people aware of solutions and help them make the right decisions for themselves.
Avoid publishing “thin affiliate pages” or content with product descriptions and reviews copied from the sales page without adding value. Your affiliate pages should contain original and helpful content.
According to Google, good affiliate sites…
“Add value by offering meaningful content or features.
Examples of good affiliate pages include offering additional information about price, original product reviews, rigorous testing and ratings, navigation of products or categories, and product comparisons.”
A great way to help your audience (and earn affiliate commissions) is to publish product reviews that include your affiliate links.
Google suggests you adhere to the following best practices for product reviews:
- Evaluate products from a user’s perspective.
- Demonstrate that you are an expert in what you are reviewing.
- Provide evidence, such as visuals, audio, or other links of your own experience with what you are reviewing, to support your expertise and reinforce the authenticity of your review.
- Share quantitative measurements about how something measures up in various categories of performance.
- Explain what sets something apart from its competitors.
- Cover and compare things worth considering. Or explain the best solution(s) depending on use or under certain circumstances.
- Discuss the benefits and drawbacks of something based on your original research.
- Describe how a product has evolved from previous models or releases to provide improvements and address issues. Or help users in making a purchase decision.
- Focus on the most critical decision-making factors based on your experience or expertise (for example, a car review might determine that fuel economy and safety are key decision-making factors and rate performance in those areas).
- Describe important product design choices and their effect on the users beyond what the manufacturer says.
- Include links to other helpful resources (your own or from other sites) to help readers make decisions.
- Consider including links to multiple sellers to allow readers to purchase from their merchant of choice.
- When recommending something as the best overall or for a specific purpose, including why you consider it the best, with first-hand supporting evidence.
- Ensure there is enough helpful content in your ranked lists for them to stand on their own, even if you choose to write separate in-depth single reviews.
Successful affiliates have a solid content and monetization strategy and promote their content on social media platforms. These might include TikTok, YouTube, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Quora.
Ideally, before you create new content, you should know which affiliate programs or products to promote – and how you want to promote them. Adding affiliate products to your content retroactively can be cumbersome and often does not fit well into previously created content without significant changes. This is especially true for video, but can apply to written content as well!
NOTE: ClickBank is a great source for quality affiliate products you can promote to your audience, wherever they happen to be online. It’s easy to see what’s performing well right now on our regularly-updated top ClickBank products blog post!
In addition, you should always keep in mind affiliate disclosure rules. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires affiliates to disclose their relationship with the seller of a product or service.
According to the FTC:
“Suppose you meet someone who tells you about a great new product. She tells you it performs wonderfully and offers fantastic new features that nobody else has. Would that recommendation factor into your decision to buy the product? Probably.
Now suppose the person works for the company that sells the product – or has been paid by the company to tout the product. Would you want to know that when you’re evaluating the endorser’s glowing recommendation? You bet.”
For a detailed explanation of what to say (and where), I recommend you read our article on affiliate link disclosure.
Tips on Choosing Affiliate Programs
Rule #1 on picking an affiliate product to promote is that whatever you promote should be a good fit for your audience.
For example, if your target market is dog lovers, don’t promote web hosting solutions, even if these programs pay high commission rates.
ClickBank, for example, has a massive marketplace featuring 3,000+ products from thousands of sellers, including Animal Care & Pets.
Whatever your niche, ClickBank likely has several great offers you can promote and profit from.
You can also run a search on Google to find affiliate programs that might not even be listed in affiliate marketing networks like ClickBank.
- Best affiliate programs for [your niche]
- Best [your niche] affiliate programs
- “[Niche/product]” + “affiliate”
- Search for relevant products/merchants and see if they have an affiliate program
One of the advantages of growing your audience from free traffic sources is that you can promote great affiliate products that aren’t on the radar of other affiliates using paid ads.
Many affiliate programs don’t pay high enough commissions to justify promoting them with paid ads. However, they can be very lucrative for affiliates that don’t spend money on ads, especially content publishers and creators.
Ultimately, your priority should be to help your target audience, irrespective of how much commission a program might pay you. Don’t recommend a product only because it pays a high commission rate – recommend a good product that actually helps your audience.
This ensures not just upfront sales, but also low refunds and more satisfied customers who will trust your product recommendations in the future!
Building an Affiliate Audience Wrap-up
The main challenge new affiliates face is getting eyeballs on their affiliate links.
By building an audience, you can become the go-to person in your niche and position yourself as an authority and expert.
Helping and guiding your followers to make the right decisions can be fulfilling and rewarding. And by organically growing your audience, there is no need to spend money on ads to acquire new leads – and if you do decide to run paid campaigns, you can expect a higher return on your ad spend because every customer is worth more!
Of course, building an audience takes time and it’s only one piece of the affiliate marketing puzzle. If you want to significantly boost your chances of earning more commissions faster, you’ll want to invest in your affiliate marketing knowledge and skills.
Previously, I reviewed several affiliate marketing courses that can help flatten the learning curve. Unfortunately, many of them aren’t the best and may be too expensive for new affiliate marketers.
That’s why ClickBank stepped in with a top-notch, affordable affiliate education platform called Spark by ClickBank, developed in-house based on our extensive experience of what works and doesn’t work in the affiliate marketing space!
Along with expert courses covering both free and organic traffic, Spark includes an optional Convertri landing page builder at a discounted rate, plus landing page templates, a comprehensive funnel-building course, and a helpful Discord community that helps and supports each other.
Interested in getting access to the courses, community, and tools to fast-track your affiliate success? Sign up for Spark now!