A beginner's guide to affiliate marketing

3/ Understand the IT

Do you have, and know how to use, the IT tools that enable your website to carry, track or upgrade the ads on your website? How about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and keywords to ensure your website and your ads come out high on the list with search engines? SEO optimisation is an increasingly specialist field and you may need some expert help here.

4/ Promote your passion

There is no point in promoting products and services that you or your company do not care about or which are not directly relevant to your business interests, personal passions or target audiences. Take some time to consider the kinds of products and services that will work best for you, or pick a niche you know a lot about. If you really want to drive sales you need to engage with the ads in some way, for example by writing about them, and you will struggle to do this if you don't really believe in them.

5/ Know your audience

What is the profile of the people who visit your website, why do they come and how can you make them return regularly? What products and services might be of interest to them?

6/ Find your ads

Once you have addressed the above two steps you will have a good idea of the brands you are looking for. Work out what will entice your audience to click on the ad: is it a voucher, a video, product feeds, banner ad or text link, for example?

7/ Content is king

It seems obvious, but if you want more people to click on the ads you carry, you need more people to visit your website. While this can be achieved in part through SEO, the truth is that people will visit your website if it carries lots of constantly updated, relevant and interesting content.

8/ Learn to market yourself

Affiliate is a sales channel; sell your ads to your audience and your audience to your advertisers.

9/ Seek out the experts

As mentioned above, there are established affiliate networks you can sign up to. These offer a range of a services and support that include access to leading brand advertiser programs, support and development, tools and techniques for boosting affiliate revenue, and tracking and performance analysis.

Lastly, once you have created your affiliate strategy it's important to keep reviewing the performance of the network and the ads that are running. Look at the ads that are performing well and those that aren't; is it because they fit the audience? Is it because they're in the wrong places? Don't be afraid to experiment and keep on testing.