Whenever people ask me to recommend them a "low cost" way to make money online, affiliate marketing would always make it up there as one of my top recommendations.
The reasons are obvious:
Unlike an e-commerce business, you don't need capital for inventory or have to hire a team to deal with customer service.
And, unlike Shopify drop shipping, you don't need a lot of money to do product testing.
All you need to do is help other businesses sell their products and take a cut from that sale. The commissions can be anywhere from 3% - 70% of the product price.
Done right, income from affiliate marketing can be quite "passive" - requiring only a few hours of maintenance from time to time.
While there are obvious advantages of making money with affiliate marketing, a lot of people still ask:
"Why would anyone buy something with my links? Why couldn't they just go to the website and buy directly?"
So today, I'm pulling back the curtains on my own 2.5-year journey with affiliate marketing to give you an insider view to show you that it is possible, and to give you some guidance on how to get started with it yourself.
Before we get into it, I'd just wanted to let you know that while I'm sharing this with you, I don't claim to be the most successful affiliate marketer. There is a lot more work I need to do before I get there.
But if you want to find out how you can earn an extra couple of thousand dollars a year from affiliate marketing, you might find this useful.
So, How Much Did I Make from Affiliate Marketing? (Payment Proof)
Although I started dipping my toes into ways to make money online 10 years ago, I never got around to properly setting up any kind of affiliate marketing deals until around 2.5 years ago.
Like most people, I doubted that I'd make any money from it. But I decided to finally give it a try - I didn't have anything to lose, I thought.
Since then, I've seen income from my affiliate marketing grow from year to year:
As you can see from the chart, my affiliate income doubled every year. In the last 12 months, I've made RM8,738 from affiliate marketing alone, and in the last 2.5 years, I've made more than RM12,000.
Here are some sample payments I've received in the last year:
Again, I'm not saying I'm one of the most successful affiliate marketers out there. RM12,000 isn't a lot of money compared to people making US$100 or $1,000 a day from affiliate marketing.
It is, however, a few times more than what I made more than 10 years ago from my part-time work as a student in uni. Today, this could easily fund a nice vacation to Japan 🙂
Personally though, I invested most of the money back into my business.
While affiliate marketing makes up a small portion of my income right now, I'm hoping to continue growing it every year.
So, What if You Want to Make Money with Affiliate Marketing in Malaysia? Step-by-Step to Get Started
A lot of Malaysians are feeling the financial pinch of stagnating income growth and looking for a way to make extra money on the side. For some people, affiliate marketing might be the perfect way to do it.
So if you're interested to get started with affiliate marketing, I'll be happy to share some tips from my own affiliate marketing journey.
Basically, these will be the steps you'll need to take:
1. Pick a niche
2. Pick a platform
3. Look for products to promote
4. Create useful content around the niche and products
5. Work hard
6. Tweak and improve
Let's take a look at the details of each step.
Step 1: Pick a niche
To get started, you'll need to pick a niche. Now, this can be a really tough thing to do if you've never done it before, but I've always found it useful to start from your own interests.
What kind of content do you consume online on a daily basis?
What are some interesting hobbies you have?
Starting from your own interests make it easier to create content consistently. Personally, I've started 90% of my own sites based on my personal interests, including Entrepreneur Campfire, which stemmed from my interest to dig deeper into business in Malaysia.
Step 2: Pick a platform
Once you've picked your niche, it's time to pick the platform to create content on. Right now, the biggest platforms for affiliate marketers is their own website, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.
If you are a good writer, consider starting a website or blog. If you are better with creating video or visual content, consider YouTube, Facebook or Instagram.
When you're starting out, I'd recommend focusing on one platform first, before branching into another platform. Otherwise, you might find it overwhelming to keep updating content on a few different platforms every week.
Step 3: Look for products to promote
Your affiliate marketing journey won't be complete without picking out products to promote. The easiest way to do find out if your favourite products or brands are recruiting affiliates is by typing "[brand/product name] + affiliate" into Google.
Sometimes, affiliate programs will only accept you if you already have a following (for e.g. 1,000 subscribers on YouTube, 10,000 visitors from search etc), but there are quite a lot of them out there that don't require it.
If you don't have a clue what to promote, check out my list of affiliate programs in Malaysia to get some ideas:
Step 4: Create content around the niche and products
Now comes the fun part: creating content.
For beginners, knowing what to create can feel pretty daunting. I know I used to get analysis paralysis when thinking about what to publish when I first got started. So much so that I only published a few blog posts a year!
What helped was just telling myself to create. I eventually managed to build a discipline of publishing every week. I don't expect every piece I publish to be perfect, but just hitting publish every week did make a big difference to me.
If you want ideas on the type of content to publish, I'd recommend getting inspiration from blogs, YouTube channels, and IG accounts you personally follow.
Since you want to make money from affiliate marketing, make sure to publish content about the products too. It is a good idea to create one promotional content for each 10 non-promotional content to avoid scaring your audience away by being too promotional.
Step 5: Work hard
I'll be honest - this won't be an easy process. It might well take you well between 6 - 12 months of working very hard before you even make a dollar.
But keep working on it anyway. If you can, I'd recommend putting in at least 5 - 6 hours a week.
Step 6: Tweak and improve
Creating a long-term audience is an art and a science. Even though I've been seriously putting time into Entrepreneur Campfire for the last 3 years now, I am learning new things every day.
Other than that, the internet world is constantly changing - what works today might be completely useless one year from now.
So, expect to make changes to your content and product promotion strategy over time to improve your ROI. Have the mindset of a learner and focus on growing.
Looking for a Course on Affiliate Marketing?
I get a lot of e-mails asking me if I offer coaching or tutoring in online businesses. Unfortunately, I've decided to pause this service for now to focus on other businesses.
While I am working on some course materials for affiliate marketing, it won't be out any time soon. Right now though, I'd recommend going for Franklin Hatchett's Savage Affiliates affiliate marketing course.
It's a comprehensive course with a Malaysian friendly price tag of US$197 (for the basic version). I've written a review about it, you can check it out below (affiliate links inside):
(P/S: If you do buy Savage Affiliates using my link, I'll get a commission. As my way of saying thanks, I'll be happy to give you a bonus copy of WP Astra Theme. It's usually US$59/year or US$249 (lifetime), you'll get 1 copy (lifetime) activated for free on the site of your choice.)
Of course, buying a course isn't compulsory for success. But if that is what you're looking for, Savage Affiliates is one of the value-added ones out in the market right now.
For advance SEO affiliate marketing, I'd recommend looking into Matt Diggity's Affiliate Lab (non affiliate link). This is a pretty pricey course at US$997 but it's one of the best in the market if you're interested to grow your affiliate marketing income through SEO. It's one of the best I've bought.
Affiliate marketing is one of the most affordable ways for people to get started making money online in Malaysia. It's personally something I've used to add an income stream.
If you follow the right steps to get started and commit to working hard, you'll likely to be able to generate your first dollar soon enough. Though, be careful about falling into the trap of wanting this to be a passive income source right away.