The first step for almost anybody who wants to make money online is to learn how to make money with affiliate marketing. This is a good first step because it teaches, by way of experience, the basics of internet marketing. It's also good for the beginner because you don't have to spend time or money creating your own product or spending lots of money on a good sales writer.

As an affiliate marketer, your job is not to sell but to pre-sell your affiliate products. This doesn't involve making a direct pitch. Rather, your affiliate marketing website, blog or e-list should concentrate on the problems your niche market experiences. After all, most products–especially information products–are sold to people who have a problem they want to solve

When you sell someone else's product, you don't have to worry about paying anyone to write a sales letter because it's already done for you. You also don't have to worry about testing different versions of the sales letter to see which one works better. (Product owners do this all the time, because even something as small as a new headline or extra bullet point can add thousands of dollars of value if it drives up enough site traffic.) The benefit of this is that you can use the sales letter that's already been written to identify not only what the problem is, but also the emotional triggers associated with it. Then, on your blog, your web pages or on your e-list, you can talk about those problems from the angle of a consumer. You don't even have to directly pitch the product–in fact, it's often better if you don't! Just make sure you provide a link and a small advertisement about the product somewhere close to your content

Good sales letters written by competent sales writers can cost anywhere up to the low four-figure to the five-figure range. One reason good sales literature costs so much is because the writer may end up spending a whole month researching it. It's not just sales words that go into the material. Hours and hours of product research–and more importantly, market and consumer research–go into the building of a sales letter. Good sales writers are "worth their rate" in gold, though. After all, a sales letter is what gets that prospect to say the final "yes."

Ultimately, creating your own product (or paying somebody to create it), then marketing it, is one of the best and most fulfilling ways to earn an income online. But this can take time and financial resources that most beginners just don't have. Learning to make money online with affiliate marketing can also keep you from making costly mistakes when you finally do have your own product. Mistakes are part of the learning process, and you should expect to make a few when you first start out. But it's best to make them when you don't have large amounts of your own money, or your own brand, at stake.

For further information on affiliate marketing Alan King suggests you check out his friend Mike Filsaime's site at PayDotCom. Paydotcom is a great resource for finding niche marketing products.