Beginners guide: How to build an Affiliate website from scratch using WordPress


I get quite a lot of emails from people looking to build their first affiliate site and asking just how they go about doing it. So I thought I'd write a quick and easy practical guide for beginners to point them to. First of all, let me explain why I always recommend WordPress and not Blogger. Its easy really, WordPress is much easier to customise and has much, much more support and plugins available, all for free. Although I started this very blog using Blogger 3 years or so ago, I can say hand on heart that in my experience WordPress is the better of the 2 options and that's why I use it now. Its what I use for this blog and on my discount code site, it works very well. OK so here's a step by step guide on how to build an Affiliate website from scratch using WordPress. 1. Think of something to write about: Ideally, pick a topic/niche that you know a lot about and have a real genuine interest. That way, you'll be able to produce rafts of unique content and hopefully enjoy yourself doing it! Take it from someone who has been there and done it, its so very much harder to write about something that doesn't interest you. 2. Buy a unique domain name: As I tend to only target the UK, I always buy a .uk domain name. Now, there are only 2 official UK domain extensions, .co.uk and .org.uk. Of the 2 .co.uk is by far the most popular but .org.uk will do too. As far as I can see Google and the other major search engines treat .co.uk and .org.uk's equally and don't give preferential rankings to either. And the benefit of owning a domain ending in .uk is that it is straight away identifiable as coming from the UK and will therefore be recognised as such in the search engines and ranked accordingly. Personally I use 1&1 for my domains and hosting as they have been around for 20 years, are totally reliable and you can buy a .uk domain from only £1.99 a year and they even have regular offers where domains are free! Also, they have the most simple easy-to-use control panel that I've ever seen. When picking a domain name for a potential site, I always try to find a URL that has 1 or 2 keywords relevant to my sector in the title. So, lets say that we are going to build a site about credit cards, head over to the Google AdWords keyword tool and also the DigitalPoint keyword suggestion tool and type in "credit card" into the search boxes. Soon you will see loads of popular search terms associated with that phrase, such as "best credit card", "credit card deals", "uk credit card", "credit card offer" and so on. I then head back over to 1&1 and see which of those popular search terms ate available as domain names. Quick note: I always try to buy the domain name with no hyphens in, i.e. bestcreditcard.co.uk, however if there are none available I will go for best-credit-card.co.uk. I always use a hypen "-" and not an underscore "_". In my experience hyphens work better with the search engines. BTW at the time of writing, bestcreditcard.org.uk is available to register. 3. Install WordPress: OK so you have your domain name and some hosting from 1&1 now to get WordPress installed. Go to WordPress.org not WordPress.com and simplay download the programme for free. There is extensive documentation here and a support forum here that tells you all you need to know to install it on your 1&1 domain name. 4. Customising your site: One of the main reasons I use WordPress is because of the thousands of free themes available on the web that will give your site a unique look and feel. A good starting point is these, and a quick Google search reveals many more. To be honest though, at this early stage on your first site I wouldn't worry too much about the theme. The main focus should be on getting your site up and running, so pick a them and then move onto the next step. 5. Install Akismet: WordPress is great, off the shelf. But it can be made so much better by using the free WordPress Plugins that are widely available on the web. I know we haven't even built a site yet but there is one essential plugin that you need before you do anything: Akismet - In many ways WordPress is a victim of its own success, as spammers will target your site using the "comments" function built into the system. However to combat this you should install Akismet, it does a great job of weeding out 99% of spam comments to your blog. So far it's eliminated over 40,000 items of spam on this blog. Just follow the comprehensive installation instructions and within 2 or 3 minutes you will have Akismet up and running on your new WordPress site. This will save you countless hours of wasted time deleting spam, when your site is successful and receiving loads of traffic :) 6. Writing content: OK so your site is up and running its really important to add regular unique fresh content. The more you write, the more the search engines will come and index your site and the better you will do in the search engines. Some of my regularly updated sites can get indexed within 15 minutes by Google, as way of an example. Set yourself a manageable and achievable target, at the very least write once a day, but if you can write 5 pieces of content a day even better! Its also important to write with the search engines in mind. Take this blog post about Butlins as an example, I used the title "Butlins February 2008 half term offers and free holiday brochure". Now that may sound like a lengthy title but hopefully it will mean that it ranks well for the following search terms: Butlins Half term holiday Butlins offers February 2008 half term Free holiday brochure Butlins brochure And so on. So although longer titles for your blog post don't always roll off the tongue, always rememeber to try and include as many search terms as you can in them. Google will appreciate it! So by following the steps above you will have the groundwork of your very own first affiliate website. I always tell people that the hardest thing to do is to gather traffic to your site, its the most difficult process involved in making money online. BUT once you achieve this, its easy to make money. Yes easy. So with that in mind we'll end part one of this tutorial here and in part 2 we'll focus on getting traffic to your site once its up and running. But for now, go and build your site, and get some good content up there. To illustrate that anybody can build a website using WordPress with no technical ability my cousin has set up a beauty and fashion blog called BeautyGlam. She has followed exactly the steps outlined above with the only exception being that I got her a custom theme designed - but only as I have access to a designer, as I said above this isn't a necessity. At the time of writing this, the site has some good articles up, and soon she will be adding more affiliate links to start monetising it. Look out for a follow up soon where I'll talk about how to generate that all important traffic to your very first affiliate website. What I'm listening to right now: Cameo - "Love You Anyway"

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27 Responses to Beginners guide: How to build an Affiliate website from scratch using WordPress

  1. Stephen says:

    Great post Kieron,
    I had a look at your cousin’s site, glad to see she has taken the advice from your previous post about including a Contact, T&C’s and Privacy page. Looks great.

  2. gadget says:

    Great post Kieron. I’m a huge fan of WordPress too and agree it’s very easy to use. To add value to this post, I’d like to make the following comments -

    I launched my latest website (www.freetickets.org.uk) a few weeks ago using WordPress and a .org.uk URL. It’s already featuring on Google’s first page for the phrase ‘free tickets’ and has just been given a PR2. Thus, Google doesn’t mind about .org.uk domains.

    I also use 1&1 to register my domains but prefer to use a different company when hosting. This is because I don’t like keeping all my eggs in one basket and also because the 1&1 servers are not in the UK ( they’re in Germany). Whilst it may not make a huge difference to SEO, I work on the ‘every little helps’ view.

    I agree that the Akismet plugin is essential but a close second is the Google Sitemap plugin, especially the latest version that allows submission to Yahoo (albeit with an API key).

    You don’t talk about WordPress themes much. I think it’s important to give careful consideration to the theme you use. Colours, layouts etc are an integral part of building a brand. Okay, maybe you’re not expecting a multi-million pound business to develop but the look and feel of the website is important. Kieron’s sites are good examples of this.

    My final comment is to look for sites to ping your blog to. Afterall, if it’s good – let everyone know about it!

  3. Cyrus says:

    Thanks for this info Kieron. I just installed WP for the first time a few months ago and have wondered about how to deal with all the spam comments more easily. Also, thanks for your reply re: my info product for your discount code site. We’re still working on the pitch page but it should be ready to roll out in the next week.

  4. gadget says:

    Kieron – do you use a widget to publish those skyscraper banners on the right-hand side? If so which one pls?

  5. Kieron says:

    Gadget, no widget needed, I just plugged the code for the banners straight into the WordPress theme.

  6. Christian says:

    Nice post, Kieron. Looking forward to the next in the series. I started my own blog back on Jan 1st (not with the intention of it being an affiliate site per se) and I’ve already had 2k+ visitors so I’m hoping to make a bit of on the side!

    Cheers for the tips and for being an inspiration to us all!

    Christian

  7. KiwiA says:

    Great post thanks Kieron. Would you still recommend a wordpress blog site over a traditional website for an affiliate review site when starting out from scratch and had the skills to do either?
    Grant

  8. I recently build a content website which I monetized with Google absence, Amazon, etc I have been using reprint articles that relate to my keyword to populate my site. Now Im facing the arduous task of getting traffic to my site. I find your blog enlightening and refreshing. I will defiantly check out wordpress. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Jon says:

    Any other plugins you would recommend Keiron – how about the social bookmarking tools?

  10. Tye says:

    Thanks for the 1&1 tip for domains – it beats my current registrar by 7!

    Whens part 2 coming ;)

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  12. Lester says:

    Hi,
    there is some useful imformation on here. Thank you. But It still dont get me my first million making a website.

  13. Ditzy says:

    Hi …
    Binned the original blog that you looked at which was attached to my hosting account because the themes were very restricting and didn’t allow for any additional fancy bits and bobs.
    Downloaded the full version of WordPress this afty and Elaine’s been round solving my file unzipping issues so I’m ready to go with the new look version.
    Quite pleased with the results after such a short time tweaking it … can’t take all the credit though … couldn’t have done it with out the mum in law :o )

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  15. dmaccy says:

    Hi, im really to good with html. whats the best way for me to deign my own template with minimal amount of html skill?

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  17. David says:

    When’s Part II coming out? Love your blog!!

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  19. Is that a plugin that you use for the silver line and the calender on your cousins site, you also have it on your UKoffer site?

  20. Laura says:

    Hi Kieron,
    I enjoy reading your blog and thought this post was great. As a total internet/website novice I got 1and1 hosting but am unsure if I got the correct package- support have been no help. Can you advise which package you use (I got Linux home package.) I’m currently running my blog from wordpress.com but can’t place adds on it so want to move it onto its own hosting.
    Thanks in advance for your help,
    Laura

  21. Hi Kieron – I totally agree about using the wordpress platform and I use it on most of my sites. The listing of a new post is ‘instantaneous’. The tip on using the keywords which people will most likley use to search your post is very useful.
    I’m not too sure I agree with 1&1 – I heard moving domains away is quite difficult, though the whole set-up, with hosting package is easy for a novice. I use Reseller Zoom to host all my sites, but this can be complicated for a beginner, and namecheap.com for my domain names.
    I’m stuck on finding good, reliable affiliates for my skegnessvideo.com – it contains news stuff, holiday stuff (+ Butlins) and history, bits of everything really. Any recommendations?

  22. CrazyBadger says:

    Great start thanks, confused about so much technology when it comes to the web and I work in IT databases though!

    How do you make a professional looking affiliate web site with product feeds rather than a blog looking site?

    Cheers

    CB

  23. Jadaylaxlog says:

    nice post i haave RSS’d you, please update more often

    thankyou

  24. Nice post. And affiliates should not forget to implement the opt-in form on their site and start building their lists!

  25. luke sipson says:

    Hi Kieron, great post, I have been going around in circles trying to find the best theme that suits what I want to do on my new website theonlyplacetoshop co uk, and I am struggling at the moment I woundered if you could help please. I am very new to wordpress and not exactly sure on how much of a theme can be modified, I would like a theme that has multi level (parent and child) navigation drop down menu’s to allow upto 15 catogories at the top and 3 columns below left for adsense, right for adverts (width changable to allow different sized ads) and the column in the middle to anounce latest offers. I really like your ukoffers website but with a adsense column down the left, I am really struggling at the moment, not sure were to start hope you can help Regards Luke

  26. BloggerDude says:

    I don’t know If I said it already but …I’m so glad I found this site…Keep up the good work I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say GREAT blog. Thanks, :)

    A definite great read….

  27. Hi Kieron. A really great post, I am absolutely amazed that I have finally found a blog that tells me exactly how to set up an affiliate website. I think it is absolutely great, as you know when searching for anything like this everyone tells you how to link the site to traffic etc. but no-one actually tells you how to make the page in the first place. A big THANK YOU from the next would be affiliate marketer. Do I look on this same site for your follow-up.
    Beverley

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