Step 1 | How to Set Up An Affiliate Marketing Platform —> Content Evaluation
To launch a publishing strategy that earns affiliate revenue via authentic product partnerships, publishers need to determine whether there is existing content that can be utilized for affiliate — how-to guides, explainer videos, endemic product advice from subject matter experts, in-category gift ideas and suggestions, etc.
You also want to utilize your site's analytics platforms, e.g. Google Analytics and Google Search Console, to understand two concepts:
Current search strengths: What are the top 25 pages and keywords right now driving the largest amount of organic search results?
Current revenue strengths: What are the top 25 highest-trafficked pages on the site? Which pages drive the most revenue, if not from traffic?
You'll also want to utilize an SEO platform such as Google Adwords Keyword Planner, SemRush, Keyword Spy, Yoast, Moz, or others to understand search demand within your endemic category. If hesitant, start by taking five or more in-category competitors and five or more respected publishers, and see which keywords drive traffic for them via organic search. The key intuition is that some searches drive consistent recurring traffic every month ("beats") while others drive large amounts of traffic in a single day ("breaks"). The goal of an effective affiliate is to align your beats with the search demand for how-to guides, explainer videos, endemic product advice from subject matter experts, in-category gift ideas and suggestions, etc.
From there, assign an editorial team to cover the biggest beats that will drive traffic via affiliate earnings. Editorial alignment and inclusion in an affiliate, forward-looking strategy is the biggest and most important cultural bridge to cross.
These are the most broadly applicable affiliate programs in the world. From there, you want to think about the endemic product manufacturers that might have the online sophistication for an affiliate program, e.g. Home Depot for DIY, Auto Zone for Auto, Fandango for Cinema.
In order to get into these affiliate programs, you'll likely need examples of where the affiliate links will be used (shout out to Step 1).
Please note that if you apply and are denied the programs it can be hard to reapply, so we'd recommend that you do the best job possible when applying to these programs (in terms of providing detailed information). You can also go through the process with some "dummy" email address/dummy data so you can see the kinds of questions the Amazons and Walmarts of the world ask when setting up affiliate.
Finally, make sure you're mindful of your domains. If your affiliate content shows up on a subdomain, apply with that domain so that the approver can find in-category, high E-E-A-T content.
Field & Stream uses product cards to drive readers to recommended fly rods
Step 3 | How to Set Up An Affiliate Marketing Platform —> Launch Affiliate
After you've been accepted and have created high-traffic content, e.g. how-to guides, explainer videos, endemic product advice from subject matter experts, in-category gift ideas and suggestions, you'll then need to drive traffic to that content in order to give the page a chance to convert into revenue. You can use A/B testing to verify the content and graphical elements that increase conversion rate, and you can use something like Syndication to increase traffic as well.
Below are the syndication platforms that publishers work with; we'd recommend starting with Apple News and Google News. These have a higher chance of driving more exposure since they’re so news-heavy.