The easiest and most common way to start building an audience for a website is via social media. Depending on your niche and industry, you can choose from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and several other niche and location-specific networks. Building up an engaged and interested following on social media is a great opportunity to build relationships and once you have their trust, promote your products and services to them.
When promoting affiliate offers, just make sure you are fully aware of all the terms and conditions attached to your affiliate program. Some programs can be strict about how they allow you to promote their products. For example, some may limit you to banner ads and links only, while others will allow you to use paid advertising, but won't allow email marketing.
My conversion rate went from 2.5% to 8% just by including Facebook polls where SiteGround was rated #1, along with a few Twitter screenshots and Facebook conversations. Whether it’s Amazon reviews or Facebook polls, you NEED to include outside opinions – that’s why I don’t like collecting reviews on my website – they look biased. But you can use WP Review Pro to do this, allowing people to review the product/service on your site and get those review stars.
2. Of course, nearly all my readers are using WP so I’m biased. But even so, most successful affiliates use WordPress. There are less restrictions in terms of hosting (site speed), design customizations, plugins, cloaking affiliate links, lots of things. I would setup a free wordpress.com site just so you can play with the dashboard and see how you like it. Who knows, you might find a theme you really like (eg. StudioPress) and want to make the transition. I would at least test it out…it’s better to make the transition earlier than later.
Always disclose your affiliate relationship. Most visitors will probably understand that graphic ad will lead to your getting paid, but if you write a review or use an in-text link as a recommendation, you want your readers to know that may lead to compensation as well. This ensures you retain transparency and trust with your readers, but also, it's required by the FTC's endorsement rules.