The Indian affiliate marketing industry has seen tremendous growth in the past decade, with internet penetration nearly tripling and online shopping becoming a ubiquitous part of everyday life.
As of 2021, the affiliate marketing industry in India is worth $300 million, with experts projecting its value to grow to $835 million by 2025.
If you’re wondering how to start affiliate marketing in India for beginners, you may be on the right track to generating huge volumes of passive income. There couldn’t be a better time to become an affiliate marketer in India.
While learning how to start an affiliate marketing business in India won’t take long, seeing results requires patience and consistent hard work.
We cover the basics of affiliate marketing and explain how to set up affiliate marketing in India below.
The Basics of Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is when a product distributor – typically an online retailer – offers commissions to marketers for driving leads and sales. Defining affiliate marketing this way makes it seem like it only involves three parties: the merchant (distributor), the affiliate, and the customer.
However, affiliate marketing sometimes involves a fourth party: the affiliate network. Affiliate networks are platforms that connect affiliates with merchants. These platforms are responsible for keeping track of the leads/sales and commissions owed.
Merchants post affiliate marketing programs along with product and commission details on affiliate networks.
It’s important to note that affiliate networks aren’t the only way affiliates can join affiliate programs. There are several well-known affiliate programs, such as the Amazon Associates affiliate program, that an affiliate can join directly without signing up on an affiliate network.
In other words, the affiliates, the merchants, and the customers make up the core of affiliate marketing.
What Is An Affiliate Or Publisher?
Affiliates promote a product or service via different forms of content – written and audio/visual – to build trust with the target audience and drive leads or sales for commissions. While affiliates are usually individuals, a company working on affiliate marketing may also be referred to as an affiliate.
There are many approaches to affiliate marketing, with content marketing being the best-known approach. Email marketing and social media marketing are other popular approaches. At the end of the post, we detail different methods of affiliate marketing without a website.
The commission that an affiliate earns depends on the terms of the affiliate program they join.
Who Is A Merchant Or Seller?
A merchant, also referred to as the item creator or advertiser, is typically the company or brand that provides the service or product. Merchants share the profits generated by the leads or sales produced as a result of the marketing by an affiliate.
A merchant need not be a big business – more often than not, merchants are solopreneurs trying to increase their product’s sales or drive leads for their services.
It’s also possible for a merchant not to be the product’s creator at all, as is the case for the merchants on the Amazon Associates program.
What Are Affiliate Networks?
Affiliate networks are online platforms that connect sellers to affiliates. While some sellers offer their affiliate programs directly – without publishing their offer on an affiliate network – some sellers use an affiliate network to make their program more trustworthy.
Affiliate networks facilitate affiliate-seller relationships and also manage third-party checks and balances. With the internet filled to the brim with scams, most affiliates consider third-party checks an essential requirement to join an affiliate program.
There are hundreds of affiliate networks on the internet, but only a few are trustworthy. Clickbank, ShareASale, and Awin stand out as some of the best-known affiliate networks.
Affiliate networks streamline the affiliate marketing process for merchants, providing them with the resources required to track leads/sales, manage to report, and facilitate payments to affiliates.
Affiliate Marketing Models
Merchants can use one of the following three affiliate marketing models when setting up their affiliate program:
- Pay-Per-Click (PPC): Affiliates are paid according to the number of clicks they produce. The number of leads or sales generated is irrelevant in this model. PPC affiliate marketing is the least used model since the merchant must pay even if they don’t profit from the click.
- Pay-Per-Lead (PPL): Affiliates are paid for every lead they generate for the merchant. The lead could be generated via online submission, pre-purchase, or signing up for a trial. The risk of not making a profit is shared between the merchant and the affiliate partner.
- Pay-Per-Sale (PPS): Affiliates are paid for every sale they generate. Most businesses that utilize affiliate marketing use this model since the affiliate runs the entirety of the risk of not profiting.
How To Start An Affiliate Marketing Business In India?
If you’re wondering, “Can I do affiliate marketing in India?” We’ve broken down the process of getting started into five steps:
Step 1: Find a Suitable Product Category (Niche)
Finding the right niche to promote products in is considered the most crucial step in affiliate marketing for two reasons:
- The success of your affiliate marketing depends on the product demand and competition in the niche.
- The website and content you create depend on the target audience you want to connect with.
Here are five steps to finding the right niche
- Explore niches that interest you since it will make it easy for you to understand the mindset of your target audience. It will also ensure that you don’t become disinterested in promoting products in the niche.
- Narrow down your list of niches by evaluating every niche’s competition and monetization options. The ideal niche will have little competition, with the competing affiliate websites monetizing their site with Google Ads and sponsored content besides promoting affiliate products.
- Narrow your list further by researching keywords using tools such as the Google Keyword Planner. The keywords must have low to medium competition, a CPC of $2 or higher, and a minimum search volume of 10,000 searches a month.
- Next, you must gauge the number of traffic sources for the shortlisted niches. Use tools such as SimilarWeb to determine whether the sites in the niche are attracting traffic from social media besides the search engine. The idea is to find a niche with several traffic sources, ensuring a healthy traffic flow to your website.
- Finally, gauge your competitors’ websites to find deficiencies in the content. Determine whether you can provide better content than your competitors (and how), and also decide on a USP for your website. For instance, the TechRadar blog stands out from other blogs with its tagline “The source for tech buying advice.”
Using websites like Flippa to find previously sold websites in the niche and checking their monthly revenue is another excellent way to narrow down your shortlisted niches.
Step 2: Build a Website
There are two main approaches to building a website for affiliate marketing. You could either:
- Use a website builder such as Wix or Weebly and build the site, or
- Buy a domain and hosting, install WordPress, and set up a theme and some plugins to build your site.
Using a website builder removes the need to purchase a domain and hosting separately. However, website builders offer limited SEO and analytics tools. You may be able to integrate SEO and analytics plugins, but the tools you get access to depend on the website builder you choose.
On the other hand, using WordPress to build a website may take more work, but it isn’t complicated by any means. Further, WordPress provides affiliates with a lot of flexibility when it comes to customizing the look and operation of the website.
The WordPress theme repository offers almost 10,000 themes to choose from.
Theme marketplaces such as Themeforest provide a massive array of paid themes boasting attractive aesthetics and advanced customizability.
There are thousands of plugins available for WordPress that can add all kinds of functionality – from security features to drag-and-drop editors – to the website.
Most affiliates use WordPress to build their website, with 43% of all websites built using WordPress as of 2022.
For those wondering how to start affiliate marketing in India without a website, we detail the most popular approaches in the section below.
Step 3: Join an Affiliate Program
When your website is up and running, you must choose an affiliate program to join. Amazon and Flipkart affiliate programs are by far the most popular affiliate programs in India, but you have several other options. Most affiliate networks are easy to join and involve a short registration process.
The Top Affiliate Programs In India Include
1. Flipkart Affiliate Program
As of 2020, Flipkart holds a larger market share than Amazon in India, making the Flipkart affiliate program the obvious choice for many Indian affiliates.
The Flipkart affiliate program offers higher commissions in most product categories than Amazon. Offering up to 20% commission on toys and up to 12% commission on books, Flipkart’s affiliate program stands out as one of the most lucrative marketing opportunities for affiliates in India.
Flipkart offers its affiliates benefits such as custom coupon codes and special promotions to help affiliates drive more sales. This makes Flipkart’s affiliate program one of the best programs to join for affiliates in India.
It’s important to note that the cookie duration is 24 hours, and the minimum payout threshold is set to ₹25,000. This may make driving sales challenging for inexperienced affiliates.
2. Amazon Associates
Many Indian affiliates prefer to join the Amazon Associates program over other affiliate programs since the company has built a trustworthy reputation in India. Furthermore, Amazon offers a huge product catalogue, offering products of all types.
The commission rates vary according to product category, with Amazon offering a high commission of 10% on beauty products and a 20% commission for Amazon Games sales. You can take a look at the official commission table here.
3. Reseller Club
If you’re interested in the web hosting niche, joining the Reseller Club affiliate program might be the best option. Affiliates can make anywhere between ₹1,000 to ₹8,000 per sale driven.
The unique affiliate ID provided will allow you to track your performance. The affiliate program is cookie-based, with the cookie being valid for 60 days. Your commissions can be transferred into your account directly via bank transfer or PayPal.
One of the oldest affiliate networks operating in India, vCommission is trusted by over 100,000 affiliates worldwide and works with large brands such as Myntra and SnapDeal. Depended on over 150 advertisers, the network provides a wide range of products to promote.
You will need to earn commissions worth $100 to request a payout. vCommission pays its affiliates on a 30-day cycle. It’s important to note that for affiliates to qualify for the program, they must only use English on their website.
In other words, if your website uses Indian or foreign languages other than English, this is not the right network to join.
With over a thousand campaigns, Cuelinks offers an impressive spread of products for Indian affiliates to promote. One of the best things about the network is that integrating its plugin into WordPress will automatically insert affiliate links to all the keywords on your website.
Affiliates do not need to pay to sign up and only need to accumulate ₹500 in commissions to request a payout. However, the seven-day cookie duration entails high effort from affiliates to convert visitors to customers quickly.
Step 4: Find Products to Promote
Promoting just any product you come across is not an effective tactic since your visitors will have an eye for quality and will always do their due diligence before making a purchase.
You must find high-quality products with good ratings and reviews to promote. This can be easy if you’ve joined a standalone affiliate program such as the Amazon Affiliates program.
However, if you have joined an affiliate network, you will need to determine whether the product you want to promote has a good reputation in the market.
Affiliates can do this by looking at the “gravity score” and conversion rate of the product (if provided by the network) and gauging the quality of the product by reading other affiliates’ reviews or purchasing the product themselves.
Choosing to promote services or product subscriptions instead of standalone products may be the better option for two reasons:
- Promoting services almost always fetches higher commissions compared to promoting products, and
- Most affiliate programs for services involve recurring commissions. In other words, you only have to sell your visitors the product once, and you will receive a monthly commission as long as the customer stays with the company.
Before you decide to promote a product or service, ask yourself these questions:
- Will my audience be able to make sense of the purpose of the product?
- Will my audience find this product genuinely useful?
- Will my audience be able to purchase the product without much hassle?
- Does the product offer a high enough commission to justify the effort to promote it?
- If the commission is low, is the product attractive enough to convert enough visitors to meet my commission targets?
Step 5: Create Content
Approaching content creation creatively to persuade visitors to purchase while keeping the content genuine and informative is key to success in affiliate marketing.
Here are a few different types of blog posts you can write to promote your affiliate products effectively:
- “How-to” Posts
These posts are written with the primary intent of teaching the site’s visitors something – most commonly about how to use a product. Tutorial posts provide a lot of information and can naturally persuade visitors to purchase a product. For instance, a “how to use WordPress” post could include affiliate links to hosting providers.
- Comparison Posts
These posts compare the features of two similar products and list the pros and cons so the visitor can determine which product is better for themselves. These posts can be exceptionally effective at attracting traffic.
- Product Review Posts
In these posts, affiliates describe every product feature and provide a detailed description of the experience of using the product. Ideally, affiliates must use the product themselves to provide a unique perspective on the product. Sharing your expertise with your audience this way will go a long way in establishing your website as a reliable information source.
- Product Listicles
These posts offer insight into the features of various products in the same product category. Product listicles done right allow readers to determine which product is ideal for their use case. A satisfied reader is highly likely to convert, earning you a commission.
How To Start Affiliate Marketing In India Without A Website
One of the best things about affiliate marketing is that there is no hard and fast approach that every affiliate needs to follow. There are many ways to promote affiliate products without setting up a website.
Four ways you could do affiliate marketing without a website are:
1. Social Media Promotion
Posting useful and entertaining content on sites such as Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook can engage your target audience and help you build a following. You can then promote products that the audience may find helpful – all you have to do is place your unique affiliate link in your posts.
2. Make an eBook
The internet offers informative content for free, but the information is not always organized in a manner that is easy for someone to understand. Often, there is a lot of scope for content to be explained in a simpler, more profound way.
Using Google Trends is an excellent way to determine what searchers want to learn. To make an eBook, find a topic you could break down with expertise and publish an eBook. Writing persuasively and embedding your affiliate links in content can lead to conversions and earn you commissions.
3. Make a YouTube Channel
If you find making videos more approachable than writing content, making a YouTube channel may be the perfect way to reach your target audience.
You can post your affiliate links in the description of the video. If your videos are relevant and persuasive, converting viewers shouldn’t be challenging.
The process of making a YouTube channel for affiliate marketing is similar to that of building an affiliate website. Begin by finding a niche and gauging competition before building a channel and joining affiliate programs that offer excellent products.
4. Build an Email List
Building an email list is often hand-in-glove with other affiliate marketing methods. Regardless of where you post your content, you can ask your target audience to leave their email addresses to access more relevant content or deals on the products they’re interested in.
Building an email list takes patience, and your audience will not trust you from the start. You will need to build a relationship with your audience and establish yourself as trustworthy. Your audience must never get the impression that you’re promoting products for the sake of commissions.
Rather, your audience must find your content helpful enough to be persuaded to convert.
Making profits as an affiliate can seem like a long process that requires a lot of effort to those wondering how to start affiliate marketing in India for beginners.
The truth of the affiliate marketing industry in India and elsewhere is this:
You will not see results overnight. Most affiliates work on their websites for months before they see any revenue.
It’s also important to note that your income will never truly be passive. You may be able to delegate the maintenance of the website and content creation, but you will need to be involved in the process in some capacity always.
Nevertheless, with the Indian affiliate industry projected to double in size in the coming years, there couldn’t be a better time to invest time and effort into affiliate marketing.
Even if your project fails, you will have picked up valuable skills along the way that will increase your chances of success in your next affiliate marketing endeavor and also increase your employability if you decide to go that route with your career. also read this blog on how to become an affiliate marketer in India