June 22, 2020

How to Build an Affiliate Website Using WordPress The Right Way

Affiliate marketing is a tested and proven method of earning a decent income; and despite the high competitiveness, you can still make it, if you know what you're doing.

If you've done any research at all, then you know that having a website is a huge plus in affiliate marketing, and what better way to set one up than using WordPress?

The thing is, whether you're looking for how to build an affiliate website using WordPress or you already have a website that you want to optimize for affiliate marketing, we'll be showing you the different approaches to affiliate marketing on a wordpress website.

So, without further ado, let's get to it.

1. Blog Style Affiliate Website

How to Build an Affiliate Website Using WordPress

A blog styled affiliate website is exactly as it sounds. You set up your wordpress site as you would a regular blog, promote your affiliate links on it, and make money.

So, here's how to build an affiliate website using WordPress (yeah, a blog styled site):

a) Select the Niche and Products You Want to Promote

This may not seem like such a crucial aspect to building your affiliate website, but you'll soon see why it's important.

You want to spend some time doing some serious niche research, as selecting the right niche can be the difference between success and failure.

In summary, you want a niche that isn't already oversaturated and one that you don't mind promoting in the long run. You shouldn’t streamline yourself too much. You want to select a niche that is open, having several closely related sub-niches, and one with multiple offers you can promote.

b) Acquire a Memorable Domain Name

Your domain name is the address that your customers will see, and in time, type in the address bar of their web browser. It’s like your site's address on the web.

Once you’ve got your niche figured out, you want to get a domain name that is relevant to that niche. You might want to make it a memorable one too. That way, your visitors can easily associate your domain with your products, and they'll easily remember it too (if it's memorable, that is).

Do note that coming up with a memorable name is not as easy as it sounds. There are even branding agencies that get paid a lot of money just for this purpose. You can check out some online brand name generators if you're short on ideas (and cash).

While most people select a niche and then proceed to get a domain, it doesn't have to always be that way. If you don't mind spending a little cash (or a lot) to snag some memorable expired domains on sale, then you can actually move in the opposite way; get an absolute banger of an expired domain and then promote the niche that is relevant to it.

An expired domain comes with its perks. You could get sites that already have high authority, which will help you rank higher, faster.

If you're feeling up to it, you could also acquire a ready made, high ranking, high earning site and kickstart your affiliate marketing career without having to do much work. All you have to do is find the right website broker for you.

c) Choose a WordPress Hosting Plan and Select a Theme

Once you've gotten a domain, you want to choose a reputable WordPress hosting plan for your website. This is where your website files will be stored. If your domain name is your site's address on the web, the website hosting is the building itself.

It's important to note that there are two WordPress platforms you can use—wordpress.org and wordpress.com. You want to make sure you're using the WordPress.org platform.

After selecting a reputable hosting plan, make your way to your hosting account dashboard (cPanel), where you'll find a lot of icons. Navigate to the website section and click on the WordPress icon. Oh, you can ignore the others.

With hosting out of the way, you want to select a theme. Your theme determines the visual appearance of your site.

Your WordPress site will come with a basic theme by default, but it's not the most appealing of themes. So, you want to install some professionally designed templates to change your site's appearance.

Simply go to your WordPress admin dashboard, navigate to “appearance,” “themes,” and click on the ‘add new’ button. You'll be able to select from over 4k free themes, which you can sort by popular, latest, and other filters.

There are also lots of premium themes if you want more uniqueness and features, customization options, support, updates, and more.

The process is quite simple, so you don't need to spend months learning to code. Just make sure to choose a theme that is easy to navigate and lay out your content in the best way, to help you convert visitors into customers.

d) Join an Affiliate Program

Of course! How'd you start an affiliate website without being an affiliate yourself?

Joining an affiliate program is one of the easiest parts of the process. Choose an affiliate marketing program that aligns with your passions and preferred market.

The simplest way to find a product to promote is to join affiliate programs like ShareASale, Amazon Associates, or CJ Affiliate. Pick a program and fill out the requirements. Your application should be approved in no time.

Before that, you might want to review the terms and conditions of the affiliate network. This is crucial as it'll give you all the necessary information on the dos and don'ts of the program. You also want to learn about the different tools that the network provides to their partners, as well as the types of revenue you can drive.

Once you've done your background checks, complete your application, and you should be approved for the program in no time. You can then make your way to your dashboard, which will provide you with a lot of useful information. You’ll also find the unique affiliate links you’ll be promoting on your site.

e) Start Pumping Content to Attract the Right Audience

Everything mentioned till now is just about getting started. Now, it's time to start the back breaking work.

It's not nearly enough to just promote products on your site. You need to attract the right audience through powerful content that helps your readers make informed purchase decisions.

If you rely on search engines for most of your traffic, then you want to do some keyword research. A very important aspect to help you determine if you’re attracting the right traffic is keyword intent.

The four common types of keyword intent are:

  • Navigational: users are simply searching for a particular website.
  • Investigational: users are searching for info to help them make a purchase.
  • Informational: users just search for the answer to a question.
  • Transactional: users are ready and want to make a purchase.

As a blog styled affiliate marketer, you want to rank for investigational keywords, as your potential customers use them when trying to search for product comparisons, reviews, and recommendations.

Some of the more common phrases in investigational keywords are “best,” “review of,” “comparison between,” “alternative to,” and so on.

With keyword intent in the bag, you want your content to answer the questions of your would-be customers. You can do this with just your browser. Head over to google and start typing a phrase related to your product category (like you would, if you were your own customer).

Say you're promoting tech, specifically, smartphones. You could type in "best smartphones for," and let Google bring in a lot of options to complete the query. Chances are, if Google is showing it to you, many people must be searching with that keyword.

You can also use more robust keyword tools that'll give you more information. For example, with these tools, you could see the actual (or approximate) search volume (for any country) for a particular keyword and lots of related keywords.

As you write to provide answers to your potential customers' questions, include those keywords you've researched as well as your affiliate links to various products.

f) Install a WordPress Affiliate Plugin

Once your site is set up and you're pumping helpful content, you want to install some relevant affiliate plugins. They are not so different from themes in that some are free and others may require either a monthly fee or a one-time payment.

You need to install a plugin that will allow you to track what your visitors are actually clicking on, on your site, as well as what they're ignoring. Commission wise, this allows you to see, at a glance, what's working and what's not.

This will give you more insights into the search intents of your customers and allow you to better optimize your future content for different keywords that'll better guide buyers to your site.

g) Construct a Content Calendar

It's not enough to just write and upload content on the go. You want to put a content calendar in place to ensure that fresh content is added to your site weekly at least. More is better, just maintain the quality. Here's why we pump out 3 million words to our sites monthly, and how you can too.

More than 80 percent of customers search for information on google before making a purchase, and as such, generating traffic on Google is really important for your site.

Fresh content is one of the most effective ways to drive that traffic because it gives your site much more "depth" and tells Google that you might have efficient and accurate answers to users' search queries.

You want to be able to release fresh, useful content, and a calendar will help you do this. You can spend some time at the start of every month to plan the topics you'll be covering.

You want your calendar to be robust, taking into consideration major upcoming events that you may want to cover, topics that relate to previous topics (for internal linking), as well as regular how-to guides, product reviews and roundups, best ofs and more.

h) Review the Affiliate Program's Rules

You don't want to spend so much time building your site, only to lose your affiliation due to policy breaches.

So, step away from the constructing and writing, and take some time out to understand the policies of the network concerning affiliate sites.

i) Take Advantage of Your Social Media

When it comes to finding and connecting with your target audience, social media is one of the major ways to achieve this.

It helps to bring your customers closer in many ways: they can easily know when new content is live on your site, and it just gives a kind of "friendship" feeling.

Despite the proven benefits, you don't want to rush to create an account on every single social app. Rather, you want to choose a social platform based on the products you promote.

Whichever you choose, you can adopt best practices such as: using the same logo and color scheme on all channels to maintain uniformity across your brand, informing your followers of any new upload to your site, and more.

You also want to encourage your readers to ask you questions, and reply to them quickly.

Just bear in mind that the actual selling is taking place on your site. Your social media is simply to educate and engage.

2. Affiliate Store

affiliate store with wordpress

When you're looking for how to build an affiliate website using WordPress, most of the information you'll find will be showing you how to navigate the blog styled route (and for good reason); but that's not the only way.

You could create an affiliate store instead. It still allows you to sell products and earn commission, and it's relatively easier. So what's the difference?

What is an Affiliate Store?

An affiliate store is an online store that promotes affiliate products.

Once you set up your store, you add your affiliate links to the products you're promoting. Any customers who click on the items will be redirected to the program's website to complete their purchase, and you earn a commission.

Unlike a typical online store, you don't have to worry about managing and shipping orders, or keeping track of inventory.

a) Setting Up Your WordPress Affiliate Store

To get started, you will also need a domain name and a WordPress hosting account, which you can install and set up as mentioned in the "blog styled affiliate website" section.

Once you have all that covered, you should proceed to your WordPress dashboard. There, you'll find and install a wordpress e-commerce plugin.

Any plugin will do, but most people use WooCommerce (currently powering millions of eCommerce websites worldwide). So you can try that too.

After activation, the WooCommerce setup wizard will start up. You can then choose the location, currency, payment methods, etc.

That said, you won't really need this for an affiliate store, so you can skip the setup wizard from the bottom of the page. Not to worry, you can configure the options later if you need them.

b) Signing Up to an Affiliate Program

Once you've installed WordPress and WooCommerce, you'll need to sign up for an affiliate program so you can start adding affiliate products to your site (your store, I mean).

Once your application is approved, you can proceed to the next phase.

c) Adding Affiliate Products in WooCommerce

As previously mentioned, there are other eCommerce plugins you can install.

WooCommerce is one of the most popular affiliate store plugins for WordPress and it eases the process of adding external affiliate products to your site. So, we'll be describing the set up process for WooCommerce.

To start adding products,

  • Go to the "products" tab, and click on "add new."
  • You'll need to fill in some fields.
  • Starting with the title of the particular product you want to import, proceed to add a very detailed description in the post editor.
  • Scroll down to the "product data" metabox, and under the "product type" dropdown menu, select "External/Affiliate product."
  • In "Product URL," you want to enter your affiliate link to that exact product. You can easily get the URL from your affiliate dashboard, search for the product, and get the link.
  • You can also enter the price of the item. Do bear in mind that some affiliate programs (like Amazon) do not allow this. So you'll need to find out what's acceptable and what's not.
  • After the product data, you can scroll to the "product short description" metabox and write a short description of the product. This is the description that will appear on your pages and in search results.
  • You can now proceed to add images of the product ( a single one and a gallery of images) on the right side of the page.
  • Hit the publish button, and that's it. The product will go live on your site.
  • Repeat the same process to add more affiliate products. You can easily navigate to the shop page of your website to get a view of the products, live and direct.

d) Customize Your WordPress Affiliate Store

By default, your WordPress store will come with a really basic design and not much support for WooCommerce. But, there's nothing to worry about as there are thousands of ready WooCommerce WordPress themes you can choose from to compliment your niche and products.

Your selected theme will determine the appearance of your website.

Also, if you'd like to add new features, you need to find WooCommerce plugins that offer them. And there are a whole bunch of WooCommerce plugins that can easily give you desired features.

e) Grow Your WordPress Affiliate Store

Once set up and running, you need to focus on growing your store. And there are many plugins, tools, and resources to help you with that.

You would need to do some search engine optimization, to optimize your store for the search engines. You can also do more research on specific tools and plugins that you'll need for your affiliate store.

You also need to monitor your traffic, as this will help you distinguish your best selling affiliate products from products that are not doing too well. Google Analytics is a very important tool that can help you with this.

If you've used an online store yourself, you'll agree that there are times when you add an item to cart and, well, just forget about it. As a store owner, this could cost you money.

So, you should check out detailed guides on recovering abandoned carts, to boost your sales.

f) Publish Content

Truth be told, if you're just going to create an affiliate store and keep adding products, you might not get as much coverage as needed, especially if you're relying on search engines as your main source of traffic.

So, you want to be able to publish helpful content, reviews, you name it, on your site, because this is what the bulk of your potential customers are really searching for.

Additionally, it'll help you to better optimize your site for search engines.

g) Promote Other Products

This is one of the major advantages that setting up an affiliate store provides you.

Apart from promoting affiliate products, you could also promote your own, non-affiliate products too.

To do this, you'll need to get an SSL certificate (in addition to the domain and hosting plan previously acquired). This is necessary for you to be able to accept payments for those products on your website.

h) Prioritize Providing Value

It's one thing to know how to build an affiliate website using WordPress. It's another to attempt it.

Whether you're leaning towards a blog styled affiliate website or an affiliate store, both methods are effective, if done properly.

Whichever approach you choose to use, ensure that providing value is at the core. Support this with a well optimized site, keyword research, and more, and you could be on your way to true affiliate marketing success.

How Do We Do It?

That's it for building an affiliate website using WordPress. But how do we do it here at Hekkup?

Ours is a blog styled WordPress expired domain affiliate website. We use a content heavy approach, promoting useful content to help our readers get started on their websites and kickstart their affiliate marketing career. You can check out our detailed guide to starting affiliate marketing from scratch.

We throw in affiliate links where relevant. That way, we are able to still earn a commission without spamming our readers.

At the core of our approach, we prioritize optimizing our content for our readers and the search engines, first, by providing absolute value, then keyword research, keyword sorting, alt tags, meta descriptions, you name it.


1. Can I Do Affiliate Marketing on WordPress.com?

WordPress actually provides two platforms: wordpress.org and wordpress.com. For those who do not know, this can be a major source of confusion.

Each has its pros and cons, but it must be pointed out that the pros of the .org site far outnumber that of its .com counterpart, while the cons are also much less.

So, which is better for affiliate marketing?

If you just want to do some personal blogging, and you're not bothered about making money from your site, you can go with the free WordPress.com platform.

However, if you're a blogger or a business looking to make money from your website, then the self-hosted .org platform is your best bet, by a long mile. It gives you the freedom and flexibility you need to groom your site however you deem fit.

In fact, the .com platform is highly unsuitable for affiliate marketing.

Although, you can still make money from it (if you're willing to pay $300 or more per year for its business plan and higher), you'd have to contact them and possibly share your proceeds too.

But you'll agree that the self-hosted .org site which costs just the hosting fee and gives you all the freedom is a better option.

In summary, WordPress.org is by far the better platform. From pro bloggers to small business owners and even big brands, it's the platform most people use.

2. Can I Promote Affiliate Links Without a Website?

That majorly depends on the affiliate program you sign up for. While some programs (like Amazon) make it compulsory for you to have a website, others may not.

However, there's no debating that having a website makes you look far more professional to both your readers and the affiliate networks.

That said, with blog posts being the major method of promoting affiliate products, you can also take advantage of social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter, as well as Email lists.

3. Can I build a WordPress Site Without Hosting?

Simple answer, yes and no. WordPress has two different platforms, WordPress.org and WordPress.com.

With the .org version, you need to pay for a hosting plan. However, with the .com version, you get a domain for free; and you don't have to sign up for a hosting plan.

It's important to note that for affiliate marketing, a wordpress.com site is a disaster. You cannot promote anything on the free, and even some paid plans.

To do so, you'll have to subscribe for the business plan ($300 yearly) and above, and your commissions might take a cut too.

If your concern is finance, then the .com site (with free hosting) will just further worsen the situation.

4. Can I Add Products from Different Affiliate Networks?

That's an absolute yes. You can promote products from multiple affiliate networks on a single site. In fact, this is a good way to diversify your earnings. So no problem there.

Is an Affiliate Store Better than a Blog Styled Website?

It really depends on how you go about it.

Starting with a content heavy website where you add affiliate links to your blog posts is the more popular method.

A strict affiliate store where you just promote goods is quite limiting. However, if you support it with relevant, useful content, it's a very powerful option too.

They can both be successful. Just make sure the core of your website is content. Really helpful content.