There is a lot of planning and decision-making involved in starting an affiliate site. It is tempting to take short-cuts because everyone wants to see quick results. However, I cannot emphasize enough the need to take your time.
Below,I have outlined the steps involved in creating successful affiliate sites. Follow each stage carefully, and don't move on to the next until you are 100% happy with the previous step.
1. Identify a profitable niche (which includes checking for products that you can promote).
2. Carry out keyword research to find out what people are actually searching for at the search engines.
3. Analyze your keyword research and split your keywords into groups, according to their future use on your site.
4. Sign up with a web host, so that you can get your site on the web. This particular stage is very important since not all web hosts are equal and it is a pain to change over to a new host when you find your current one is not living up to your expectations. To confuse matters further, price is not a good indicator of quality.
5. Buy a domain name, and set up your host ready to upload your pages.
6. Create pages "pre-selling" the products you are promoting. It is important to create quality content that helps your visitors with their buying decisions, as this not only makes your site valuable, it also helps prevent being labelled as a thin affiliate.
7. Add tracking code to your pages, so that you can analyze where your visitors come from, how many, and how they found your pages in the first place.
8. Join affiliate programs that provide products related to your chosen niche. It is often better to have the basic site up an running before trying to sign up for affiliate programs, since many merchants will want to see the site you are going to promote them on.
9. Add affiliate links, and/or Adsense to your pages.
10. If you are selling your own product, create a sales page for the product, sign up with Paypal or another payment processor, and add a Buy button or link to your sales page. Also you need to create an eBook "cover image" for your product, and add this image to the pages of your site so that anyone visiting a page, can see your eBook and click through to the eBook sales page if they are interested in more information.
11. Link your pages together into a site, so that it helps your visitor, the search engines, and your rankings.
12. Upload what you have done so far so that it can be found and indexed by the search engines. Get a link to your site from another site that is already in Google so that the search engines can find your site.
13. Add quality content in the form of articles that are 100% relevant to your niche. These again should be quality articles, which are informative, and provide a genuine "value" to your site. Add these slowly over time, so that your site appears to grow in size naturally.
14. Get one-way links to your site. This can be done in several ways, and not all of them are painful!
Repeat steps 13 and 14.
That's it. You may not be following every step (depending on whether you are going to offer your own products), but that list of points are the ones you will follow on the road to a quality affiliate site.
A word of warning, and I cannot stress this enough - You can spend weeks or months going through all these steps and create a large site that is well designed, but unless your content (the stuff you write on the pages) is quality, valuable and genuinely informative, your site will not do well. The most important part of any site is the content, so don't skip on quality. Make sure that you would be proud to show your content to a Google engineer. If you can't honestly say you would be happy to do this, don't publish it on your site. You will be killing any potential your site had to do well.
To read more about how you can avoid being labelled as a "thin" affiliate, download your free copy of "Creating 'Fat' Affiliate Sites"