How to start a Ghost Commerce Business in 2023 [Complete Guide]

Understanding Ghost Commerce

Ghost commerce, while often being associated with affiliate marketing, can be best envisioned as a Swiss Army knife of the digital business world – multi-faceted, versatile, and capable of generating various streams of revenue.

It involves not only endorsing and selling others’ physical products but also promoting affiliate services and securing sponsorships. In essence, ghost commerce allows one to carve out a niche in the digital marketplace without the need to create a final product or handle inventory.

The entrepreneurs engaging in ghost commerce serve as reliable conduits or influencers, bridging the gap between customers and the products or services they seek. They cultivate trust and influence, steering customers towards certain products or services, and in turn, reaping a portion of the profits from successful transactions. Ghost commerce is akin to running a comprehensive digital business that leverages the power of recommendation and influence to generate revenue.

How to Start Ghost Commerce

In the digital age, ghost commerce has emerged as a lucrative and versatile business model. It has the potential to generate a significant income and enables entrepreneurs to work from anywhere with an internet connection. However, just like any business, it requires a strategic approach to maximize success. This guide will walk you through the process of starting your own ghost commerce business.

Step 1. Decide on a Niche

The first step in starting a digital business is choosing a niche. This should be a subject area you’re genuinely interested in and knowledgeable about. This passion will reflect in your content, making it more engaging and relatable to your audience. The niche you choose should also have a reasonable market size and potential for profitability.

Here are some steps to help you identify a profitable niche:

1. Identify Your Interests and Passions: Begin by writing down a list of your personal interests, hobbies, and passions. Your chances of success are higher if you select a niche that you are knowledgeable and passionate about.

2. Perform Keyword Research: Use keyword research tools like Google Keyword PlannerAhrefsMangools KWFinder or SEMrush to find popular and relevant keywords in your areas of interest. Look for keywords with high search volume and low competition.

3. Check the Trend: Use Google Trends to understand the popularity of your chosen keywords over time. You want to avoid niches that are losing popularity.

4. Assess the Competition: Take a look at the existing competition in your potential niche. Search for your main keywords and see what kind of content or products are currently being offered.

5. Examine Monetization Potential: Check if there are affiliate programs, products, or services that you can promote within your chosen niche. Amazon’s affiliate program is a good place to start.

6. Analyze the Audience: Understand who your potential audience is and what they need. You can use social media, forums, and Q&A websites like Quora to find out what questions people are asking in your chosen niche.

7. Test Your Idea: Consider creating a small website or a social media page to validate your niche. Monitor the response and engagement you receive to see if your chosen niche is likely to be successful.

Step 2. Choosing a brand name

Choosing a suitable brand and domain name is a crucial step in setting up your ghost commerce venture. Your brand name is more than just a title; it’s a reflection of your identity and the values you want to convey to your audience.

Therefore, it’s essential that your brand name is not only catchy but also relevant to your target audience and the products or services you’ll be promoting.

When selecting a domain name, ensure that it aligns with your brand and is easy to remember, spell, and type. Avoid domain names that are too long or complicated as they can be difficult for users to recall. It’s also a good idea to include keywords relevant to your niche, as this can improve your website’s search engine optimization (SEO).

Once you’ve chosen a domain name, the next step is to acquire it. This involves checking its availability using a domain registration service such as Godaddy. If the domain name is available, you can proceed with purchasing it. If not, you’ll need to consider other options or variations.

Keep in mind that it’s often a good idea to secure multiple domain extensions (.com, .net, .org, etc.) for your chosen name to protect your brand and prevent competitors from acquiring similar domain names.

Step 3. Setting up a Website

Next, you’ll need to set up a website. There are numerous platforms available for this, with WordPress being a popular option due to its user-friendly interface and customizable features.

Your website will serve as your digital storefront, so ensure it’s easy to navigate, aesthetically pleasing and provides valuable information about your niche.

Choosing a reliable hosting service is a crucial step in setting up your affiliate marketing website. Bluehost is a popular choice among many due to its robust performance, excellent customer service, and easy integration with WordPress. Once you’ve signed up for a hosting plan with Bluehost, you can install WordPress with just a few clicks, enabling you to start building your site.

When it comes to designing your website, theme builders like Kadence or Thrive Suite can be of great assistance. These tools allow you to build custom and visually appealing websites without any coding knowledge.

Thrive Suite stands out as it’s more than just a theme builder. It’s a full suite of tools designed to convert visitors into customers. With its drag-and-drop editor, pre-designed templates, and advanced marketing features, you can create a website that not only looks great but also drives conversions. The ability to build and manage everything from your website to your marketing funnels in one place makes it an ideal choice for anyone looking to start ghost commerce.

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Step 4. Choose Affiliate Programs

Once your website is all set up, the next step is to join an affiliate program. Affiliate programs are partnerships established by companies looking to promote their products or services through third-party marketers, known as affiliates. By joining an affiliate program, you’ll gain access to unique tracking links for the company’s products or services.

Every time a sale is made through one of your links, you’ll earn a commission.

There are numerous affiliate platforms to consider. Amazon AssociatesImpactShareASalePartnersStackClickBank, and Commission Junction are some of the most well-known programs, largely due to their vast product offerings and reliable tracking systems.

When joining an affiliate program, pay close attention to the terms, particularly the cookie period and the commission structure. The cookie period refers to the amount of time that must pass after a potential customer clicks your affiliate link for you to still earn a commission if they make a purchase. This can range from a single day up to 90 days or more, depending on the program.

The commission structure, meanwhile, refers to how much you’ll earn from each sale. Some programs offer a flat rate, while others offer a percentage of the sale price. For example, Amazon Associates offers up to 10% in advertising fees, while ClickBank is known for high-commission products, some offering up to 70% per sale.

Choosing the right affiliate program requires careful consideration of these factors to ensure it aligns with your niche, audience, and revenue goals.

Step 5. Write Excellent Content

Quality content truly is the lifeblood of any successful ghost commerce endeavor. The content you produce should be well-researched, engaging, and above all, provide genuine value to your audience.

Your ultimate goal should be to establish trust and credibility with your audience, as this will encourage them to click on your affiliate links and make purchases.

Your content strategy should encompass a variety of page types to cater to different traffic sources and audience needs.

One type of page to consider is blog posts. These are primarily aimed at attracting organic traffic from search engines. This is a long-term strategy that requires consistent effort and time, but it’s often the most profitable in the long run. By targeting specific keywords related to your niche, you can draw in highly targeted traffic that’s likely to convert.

Another type of page to consider is landing pages or sales funnels. These pages are designed with a singular focus: to convert visitors into customers or leads. You can drive traffic to these pages through paid advertising or through social media channels like TikTok, Facebook or Instagram. The advantage of these pages is that they can deliver results more quickly than organic traffic, but they do require ongoing investment.

In order to create this diverse range of content, there are a number of tools at your disposal. AI writing tools like JasperContent at Scale, and Writesonic can streamline the content creation process.

These tools use advanced algorithms to generate high-quality written content, saving you time and effort. It’s like having a digital writing assistant at your beck and call. With the right tools and a clear content strategy, you can build a strong foundation for your affiliate marketing efforts.

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Step 6. Drive Traffic to Your Affiliate Website

Once you’ve developed a substantial volume of high-quality content, it’s time to focus on driving traffic to your ghost commerce website. This step is critical to generating leads, enhancing conversion rates, and attracting potential customers to your offerings.

Creating a robust SEO strategy is an essential part of this process. The higher your site ranks in search engine results, the more organic traffic you’re likely to attract. SEO encompasses a wide range of tactics, including keyword optimization, building high-quality backlinks, and ensuring your site is mobile-friendly to cater to the significant number of users browsing on their smartphones.

Here are some additional methods to generate traffic to your affiliate site:

1. Email Marketing: Launching an email campaign can effectively guide readers towards a purchase. With direct communication channels like email newsletters, you can share product recommendations, limited offers, and regular updates. To enhance the professionalism and credibility of your communication, use a custom email address that includes your website’s name.

To streamline your email marketing efforts, consider utilizing email marketing software like ActiveCampaign or ConvertKit. These platforms offer features such as automated email sequences, personalized email templates, and advanced analytics. They can help you segment your audience, track engagement, and optimize your email campaigns for better conversions. With the right email marketing software, you can efficiently nurture your subscribers and drive more traffic to your affiliate site.

2. Social Media Engagement: Establishing a strong presence on social media platforms can significantly increase brand visibility. You can engage followers and direct traffic to your affiliate site. When choosing a social media platform, consider your audience’s demographic profile.

3. Participation in Online Forums: Online forums such as Reddit and Quora provide excellent opportunities to connect with your target audience. While most forums prohibit the direct sharing of affiliate links, you can redirect users to your blog posts or landing pages where the affiliate links are present.

Keeping a close eye on the performance of your affiliate campaigns is a must. By monitoring your campaign metrics, you can understand what’s working and what needs adjustment. This continuous analysis allows you to fine-tune your strategies, optimizing for better click-through rates, conversions, and revenue.

There are several analytic tools and plugins available that can help you monitor and evaluate your affiliate marketing efforts:

1. Google Analytics: Google Analytics is a free tool that allows you to track your website traffic and user behavior. You can set up goals to track when a user completes a specific action like making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter. You can also track the sources of your traffic to understand which channels are most effective.

2. MonsterInsights: MonsterInsights is a powerful WordPress plugin that brings the power of Google Analytics to your WordPress dashboard. It’s easy to set up and allows you to track your affiliate links by setting up custom dimensions.

3. Pretty Links: In addition to link cloaking, Pretty Links also provides detailed tracking for each link. It allows you to see how many hits a link is getting, the browser, the operating system, the host, and the source of the hit.

4. ClickMeter: ClickMeter allows you to monitor, compare, and understand your marketing campaigns. You can track views, clicks, and conversions, and see where your traffic is coming from.

5. Voluum: This is a paid tool that provides advanced tracking for affiliates. You can track almost everything from clicks, conversions, and customer journey, to A/B testing your campaigns.

6. ThirstyAffiliates: Besides being a link cloaking tool, ThirstyAffiliates also offers a reporting suite that gives you insights into how your affiliate links are performing.

By using these tools, you can gain valuable insights into your audience’s behavior and preferences, which can, in turn, help you optimize your affiliate marketing strategies for better performance. It’s always recommended to test different strategies and track their results to continuously improve your campaigns.

Step 8. Improving and Increasing Your Income

After you have established your ghost commerce business, the focus should shift towards expanding and boosting your income. This can be accomplished in several ways, from joining more affiliate programs to venturing into new niches. However, it’s also crucial to refine your existing operations. Here are some methods to elevate your income:

1. Join More Affiliate Programs: By diversifying your affiliate portfolio, you can maximize your income sources. Each affiliate program may cater to a different audience or offer different products and services. This strategy gives you a broader spectrum of products to promote and increases your chances of earning commissions.

2. Venture Into New Niches: Exploring new niches can help you tap into new markets and expand your audience base. However, remember to research the niche thoroughly before diving in to ensure there is a demand for the products or services you plan to promote.

3. Negotiate Higher Commissions: If your campaigns are successful and driving substantial revenue for your affiliate partners, you may be in a position to negotiate higher commission rates. This strategy is often overlooked but can significantly increase your earnings without the need for additional traffic or conversions.

4. A/B Testing: Use A/B testing tools to experiment with different aspects of your website or marketing strategies. You can test different headlines, calls to action (CTAs), page layouts, images, and more. Tools such as Optimizely or VWO can help you conduct these tests and analyze the results.

5. Improve Your CTAs: Your calls to action can significantly impact your conversion rates. Experiment with different wording, colors, and placement to see what drives the most clicks. Tools like Hotjar can help you understand how users interact with your website and where the most engaging areas on your webpage are located.

6. Upgrade Your Content Strategy: Regularly updating and adding new content can help increase your site’s visibility, attract more visitors, and boost your conversion rate. Consider using different content formats, like videos, infographics, or podcasts, to engage your audience more effectively.

7. Utilize Email Marketing: If you have not yet tapped into email marketing, now might be the time. A well-crafted email series can drive traffic back to your site, promote specific products, or even provide value to your audience, building trust and boosting conversions.

8. Build a Solid SEO Strategy: While you might already have an SEO strategy in place, there’s always room for improvement. Look into more advanced SEO techniques, such as long-tail keyword targeting or local SEO, to further boost your site’s visibility in search results.

9. Invest in Paid Advertising: If you have the budget, consider investing in paid advertising. Platforms like Google AdWords or Facebook Ads can help you reach a wider audience and increase your site’s traffic.

By implementing these strategies, you can progressively increase your income and set your business up for long-term success. Remember, success in ghost commerce doesn’t happen overnight, and it requires continuous learning and optimization.

How Does Ghost Commerce Work?

Basically, Ghost Commerce works by promoting products or services on behalf of a third party, usually an online retailer. When a customer makes a purchase using your unique affiliate link, you earn a commission.

Ghost commerce is a relatively new strategy in the world of online selling that involves promoting and selling goods and services without establishing a physical presence or even a traditional online storefront. Instead of managing an online store, ghost commerce focuses on promoting products and directing customers to other retailers. Here’s how it generally works:

1. Selection of Products/Services: First, the ghost commerce entity, which could be an individual or a company, identifies the products or services they want to promote. These can range from physical goods to digital products or services provided by other companies.

2. Promotion and Marketing: The entity then promotes these products or services through various channels. This could be via their own website, social media platforms, or other channels where they have a strong online presence. They may use various strategies such as content marketing, affiliate marketing, and influencer marketing.

3. Linking to Other Retailers: Instead of selling the products or services directly, the ghost commerce entity provides links to other retailers where customers can make their purchases. These links could direct customers to a specific product page on another ecommerce site or to a checkout page where the transaction can be completed.

4. Earning Commissions: When a customer makes a purchase through these links, the ghost commerce entity earns a commission from the sale. The exact amount can vary depending on the agreement between the entity and the retailer.

5. Building Relationships and Trust: A crucial aspect of ghost commerce is building strong relationships with customers and generating trust. This is because the entity’s income depends on convincing customers to make purchases based on their recommendations.

Ghost commerce can be seen as a blend of dropshipping, affiliate marketing, and influencer marketing. Like in affiliate marketing, the ghost commerce entity earns a commission from each sale, but they also utilize influencer marketing strategies to build a strong online presence and drive sales.

Why Should You Start Ghost Commerce?

Ghost Commerce offers numerous benefits, including the potential for a high return on investment, the ability to work from anywhere, and the opportunity to earn passive income. It’s also a flexible business model that can be scaled up as your skills and audience grow.

Here are some of the benefits of starting a ghost commerce venture:

1. Ghost Commerce is Low-Risk and Low-Cost: Similar to affiliate marketing, ghost commerce requires a minimal upfront investment. There’s no need to handle product creation, inventory, shipping, or customer service. It’s a low-risk opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs, as the primary focus is on marketing and promoting existing products, not creating or managing them.

2. Ghost Commerce Scales Easily: As your online presence and influence grow, you can promote a wider range of products, increasing your potential earnings. The ability to scale is often only limited by your marketing efforts and the size of your audience.

3. It’s a Source of Passive Income: Once you’ve established your ghost commerce business and built a strong online presence, it can generate income around the clock. This can become a significant source of passive income, allowing you to earn money while you sleep, travel, or focus on other pursuits.

4. Potential for High Earnings: The income potential in ghost commerce is substantial. Depending on factors like the products you promote, the commission rate, your marketing strategies, and the size of your audience, you could earn from a few hundred to several thousand dollars per month.

5. Plenty of Learning Resources: Just like with affiliate marketing, there are numerous resources available to help you get started with ghost commerce. Online platforms offer courses on digital marketing strategies that can be applied to ghost commerce. You can also find blogs, eBooks, and YouTube videos discussing strategies for success in the ghost commerce landscape.


Ghost commerce is a low-risk, scalable business model that empowers you to earn money online through content creation and marketing strategies. The best part is that ghost commerce doesn’t require advanced technical knowledge or a significant budget to get started.

Once you’ve identified your niche and established a platform, the next steps involve researching and partnering with manufacturers, retailers, or other companies.

From there, you can focus on creating high-quality content that promotes products or services, and work on diversifying your traffic sources to attract a wider audience.

Lastly, it’s essential to track your campaigns and employ testing strategies to optimize their performance.

However, it’s important to remember that success in ghost commerce doesn’t happen overnight.

If you’re just starting, it may take some time before your marketing strategies start generating significant conversions.

Like any other successful business, the most important step is to start. With a solid understanding of how to commence with ghost commerce, you are now well-prepared to embark on this journey.

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