What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate Marketing

It is not an exaggeration to say that affiliate marketing is the single most profitable way to make a lot of money online. If your primary goal is to make huge amounts of money without having to leave your home, then it is likely that you are going to want to think about affiliate marketing. It is becoming more and more popular as time goes on, and there is a good chance that you have probably heard of it. But no matter how much or how little you might know if you plan to really make use of it in a big way you are going to need to know it inside out.

That is what we are going to help you with today. If you follow this article through to the end, you will come out the other side feeling much more ready to handle the whole world of affiliate marketing.

So – What Is It?

So before we get into how you can use it and what it is going to do for you, we first need to talk about what it actually is. There is a lot of confusion surrounding affiliate marketing, and many people do not really know what they are dealing with. If you don’t know what you’re dealing with, it means that you are not going to get as much out of it – it’s really that simple. So what is affiliate marketing, exactly?

In simple terms, affiliate marketing is one of the very oldest kinds of digital marketing that there are. The basic process is that you refer someone to an online product. When that person buys the product, if they have followed through your affiliate link to get there, you receive a commission on the product sold. This is both very simple and quite challenging to get it down pat. But if you can do that, then you are going to be in a position where you might even be able to quit your day job – a dream that many people have. The commission you might earn from each affiliate link could be anything from a few pennies to a few hundred. So it really is a case of getting out of it what you put into it.

Why Do It?

The next question you might well be asking is: why would you want to do this, and what can you get out of it? It is fair to want to know exactly what you can expect to get out of something before you dive in, especially as it is going to take some time to get things set up, and not a little energy too. But as it happens, there are a huge number of reasons why you might want to get into affiliate marketing, and we’re going to take a look at a few of them now.

Passive Income

This is the main reason that people get into affiliate marketing. If you have not heard of passive income, it is something that is really worth looking into. It is simply the act of being able to make a lot of money without doing much, ideally while living a passive lifestyle where you can do whatever else you want with your time. When you are set up with a decent affiliate marketing scheme, you can absolutely do that, and those who are the most successful with it are able to make this their entire paycheck, to the point where they can even quit their day job. Clearly, that is a great reason to want to do this.

No Customer Interaction

It used to be that marketing meant having to deal with people. But that is no longer the case. These days, you can get into marketing and sell products without having to speak to any customers, and it is that lack of customer interaction that often makes this really attractive for so many people. If that is something that you quite like the sound of, then you can be sure that this is going to be the lifestyle for you.

Working From Home – Or Anywhere

Many people would like to be able to work from home, and in fact this is becoming a more and more common thing to be able to do. There are many ways of doing that, and affiliate marketing is just one of them. It is very much the case that if you treat it like a full-time job, then it will reward you in that way, so that is something that you might want to think about. Being able to work from home gives you an ability for flexibility which you are certainly going to enjoy, and find to be a great way to live.

Low-Cost Startup

For many businesses, you need quite a bit of capital to get things off to a good start. But that is not really true of this kind of business, which you can start up easily without having to spend very much money at all. In many cases, you don’t have to spend a penny, so that is definitely something that you are going to want to think about. Having such a low-cost startup is definitely hugely useful for many people who are trying to make some more money from home, but are not sure how to get started.


Who doesn’t want a job that means they can work whatever hours they want? Whether it’s being able to stay in for a package to arrive, or just not wanting to leave the sofa on a Thursday, there are definite benefits to this kind of work that many other people just don’t have. You might find that this is the very kind of thing that keeps you at it day after day too.

These are just some of the benefits that you can expect to get from affiliate marketing, but let’s look now in some detail at how you can actually get into it, and what is actually going to be involved.

The Basic Process

Let’s take a look now at the basic process of affiliate marketing. Once we have been through this, you might realize that you have seen this online – even that you might have been a customer of such a scheme yourself, knowingly or unknowingly. The basic process is simple to understand.

  1. Sign up with a good affiliate marketing network.
  2. Learn the ropes.
  3. Choose a product, or more than one product, to promote.
  4. Share the link however you can – whether that is on your social media platforms, your blog, your website, wherever.
  5. Earn each time someone buys the product through one of your links.

This process is pretty simple and straightforward, but let’s look now at each of these in a little more detail. It might be useful to have a better understanding of the process in as much detail as possible if you are to make proper use of it as a means of making money.

Finding A Good Affiliate Network


At this point, you might well be asking: what exactly is an affiliate network? This is one of the most important early things that you will have to learn, and it is going to form the backbone of your entire affiliate marketing process, so it is important to be aware of it. An affiliate marketing network is any platform or channel that has been utilized to affiliate marketers for the purposes laid out here. So what are you going to want to see in an affiliate network?

There are a few main characteristics of a good affiliate network. Most of all, you should try to find one that has a lot of products to sell, as that just means that you have more of a chance of making the kind of money you want to make. You should also try to seek a network that seems to genuinely really care for its marketers and everyone involved, as that will mean that you have a better chance of success should you need someone’s help. If you look around, you can even find a network that offers one-to-one support, but it is rare to come across that.

As time moves on, and more and more people try their hand at affiliate marketing, there is obviously always going to be improvements in the kinds of affiliate marketing networks you can find. So it is worth keeping your eye out even once you have signed up to one, for others which might be useful later on too.

Setting Up Your Channels

Of course, if you are going to be able to do this, you need to have a platform from which you can promote the products. There are a lot of ways to do this, and you are going to have to decide early on which you are going to go. You might go down the influencer route, and use socials like Instagram to try and sell products. Or you might just go for the more classic route of starting up a blog and writing about products and offering affiliate links that way. However you are going to do it, you should start to think about which you are going to go. You can, of course, choose to do several at the same time, if you feel that you have the energy for that.

Let’s look at the example of using a blog to promote products, as it is one of the easiest and oldest – so it’s more tried-and-tested. First, you need to start a blog. That is simple enough, and you can generally do it for free, but you do need to make sure that you are going to set it up to look as professional as possible. You need to have a theme, choose your colors, and so on, to make sure that it is going to move in the right direction. Once you have your blog, you are going to then be able to move on to the next step – but only once your blog is really set up.

Then you need to select an industry and niche within that, which you can also use to base your blog around. It should be something that you are interested in so that you can happily write about it, and you should make sure that you are going to be able to sustain your interest in it too, so it is important for that reason.

Then look through the products of the affiliate network you have chosen and look at the ones that you would like to promote. The great thing about this is that you can choose those which speak to you in some way, and you don’t have to promote any that are not going to be worth your while or which you disagree with for whatever reason. Then you need to simply create content around those products. This can be a product review, or it could be a little sneakier than that, but if you go for the second option you have to cover your back legally by making it clear via a disclaimer that you have affiliate links in your blog posts.

Once you have started doing that, you then need to think about how you are going to drive more traffic to your blog posts. That will generally mean using keyword-rich SEO to bring in more readers and visitors, which will, in turn, mean that more and more people click on those links and buy the products. Driving traffic to the site can take a while to get right, but it is one of the most important parts of the process, so it is hugely important to make sure that you get it right.

You can also think about using email marketing techniques to try and bring people back again and again to your site. After that, it’s a matter of focusing on trying to drive more and more traffic towards your blog and therefore increasing the likelihood of a sale. Over time, it will start to grow and grow, and you could be making a lot of money before you know it.

Blogging is one of the easier ways to get into affiliate marketing, so the above is absolutely worth thinking about if you are trying to do just that. You will generally get a lot out of it without having to put all that much effort into it, and before you know it you could be drawing in a lot of money indeed.

Different Means Of Being Paid

That is the basic process, but there is also much more to it than that, and it is worth trying to be more aware of the many different ways in which you are able to earn money with affiliate marketing. Actually, there are a few major ways, and it is a good idea to try and understand as many of them as possible so that you know exactly what your options are going to be. Let’s take a look now at the main means of being paid as an affiliate marketer.

Pay Per Sale

This is the one we have used as an example mostly so far, and it is the one which you are most likely to use. It is the standard affiliate marketing program. This is where, as the name implies, you make money based on the sale of each item, so you get paid for every sale you make. This means you have to actually allow the sale to happen before you can get paid.

Pay Per Lead

Then you have the less common, but still useful, pay per lead, which is where you get paid based on the conversion of leads, rather than the specific individual sale of products. This is a considerably more complex system, which is why it is generally favored by those who already have a lot of experience in the world of affiliate marketing. But if it is utilized properly, it can be very lucrative. With this system, you need to persuade a consumer to visit your affiliate’s website and carry out the desired task – putting their email in a box, for instance.

Pay Per Click

In many ways, this is easier to make happen but much less likely to be a big earner. With a pay per click program, you gain money every time you manage to redirect customers to the affiliate’s website, even if they don’t then buy a product or carry out a conversion. Clearly, this is not the first one that people go for, but it can actually be a good way to practice the whole thing, so it’s worth bearing in mind for that reason.

What You’ll Need To Succeed

That’s all well and good, but the question now is: how can you be really sure that you are actually going to succeed with affiliate marketing? It might be that the more you look into it, the less confident you are feeling. That is a very common experience, but you don’t need to worry – it is actually going to be fairly easy to succeed in this lifestyle if you are careful about how you do it. Let’s take a look now at some of the things you will need to focus on if you are to do well with affiliate marketing.


It is generally true that it is going to take quite a long time to be able to get things set up and running, and particularly to get to the point where you are raking in lots of money. However, as long as you do this in a way that is going to allow you to carry on, then that is all that you need to be able to do so. That requires a lot of patience – without this key quality, you simply won’t have the ability to be able to do it.

Quality Content

A common problem for many would-be influencers and affiliate marketers is that they don’t realize that you have to be able to produce a lot of good quality content on a regular basis if your links are to do the job. People will only follow the recommendation of good quality blogs and so on, so this is hugely important. You can’t just churn out pointless blog posts and hope that it will do the job. You have to actually put a lot of effort into making sure that the content you are producing is of good quality and likely to be effective.

Good White-Hat SEO

There are two major types of SEO that people often use, and in affiliate marketing, you are going to want to make use of the kind that is often referred to as white-hat SEO. This is an SEO tactic that focuses on the human audience rather than the mechanics of a search engine. This is as opposed to black-hat SEO, which is where you try to trick Google and others into promoting your website above others artificially. This second kind of SEO is often considered a big no-no in the world of affiliate marketing. But making good use of white-hat SEO is absolutely essential for ensuring that your blog is promoted far and wide.

The Right Products


There is a lot that goes into the question of which is the right product, but one of the main things to bear in mind is that you should not try to promote anything that is not actually going to be likely to sell through a blog. Nobody is going to buy a car without visiting a dealership, so don’t try to sell them on your blog. The same goes for anything where that is going to be the case. You need to make sure you are promoting products that make sense, and are actually likely to sell, otherwise. you are just wasting your time.

Good Commission

Although at the start you might need to take on some lower commission rates, you don’t want to go too low even at the beginning. If you don’t earn enough, then you are just going to struggle to have any cash to put back into the business, so you need to make sure that you are avoiding all of that horrible 1 % ‘opportunities’ as far as possible.

A Slow & Steady Approach

Don’t try to do too much in one go. If you are attempting to set up hundreds of blogs and sites and social media accounts, you are not going to have the energy to put into anyone enough, and that is going to mean that you struggle to make it all work. Take it slow, get really good at one kind of affiliate marketing, and then you can gradually expand over time. There is no need to rush, and if you do so you will probably just lose out anyway.

Key Terms

The more you know, the better a position you are in, so it is a good idea to get to know some of the more common and important industry terms in the world of affiliate marketing. What follows is just a brief glossary of some of the key terms that you are bound to find useful if you are hoping to succeed in affiliate marketing.

Affiliate: That’s you. Anyone who is using an affiliate platform to try and promote products and make sales is an affiliate.

Affiliate Marketplace: Otherwise known as a database, this is where you will seek out affiliate programs in a variety of different niches.

Affiliate Software: Sometimes, a company will use specifically designed software to try and improve the likelihood of affiliation sales happening.

Affiliate Link: This is the link that you will use, as given to you by your affiliate program, to direct people to the product in question. That will show that the consumer in question came from your blog.

Affiliate ID: Sometimes, a program will offer you the chance of a personalized ID which you can use in the necessary pages.

Payment Mode: Simply enough, there are often many different ways of being paid, whether that is by PayPal, cheque or even wire transfer.

Affiliate Manager: Sometimes you might be put in touch with an affiliate manager, whose full-time job is to help you make those links and make those sales.

Commission Percentage: The amount of the total sale of a product that comes directly to you.

2-Tier Affiliate Marketing: This is an alternative method of making money through affiliate marketing. You recommend other people to join affiliate programs, and then you make money from those conversions.

Landing Page: The page that you will generally direct people to – a page built just for a specific product, to show it off and hopefully try and make that sale.

Custom Affiliate Income: Sometimes, you can come across custom affiliate accounts that offer you more flexibility.

Link Clocking: This is the process, increasingly commonly used, of turning those long tracking links into shorter ones, and so making the link a little less clunky.

Custom Coupons: You can often create your own custom coupons to help drive sales, and to improve tracking too.

How To Measure Your Performance As An Affiliate Marketer

Performance Advertising

So you are going to want to know how you can possibly expect to work out how well you are doing in affiliate marketing. Generally, that means that you are going to need to know what your Return-On-Investment is (ROI), as that is what indicates what you are actually getting for the effort and time you are putting in. The better your ROI, the better you are doing, and the higher your performance. So how do you keep an eye on this?

There are actually a few key things to pay attention to in order to ensure that your ROI is as high as it should be. Let’s look at some of those now, so that you can know from the outset what you will want to be measuring.

Revenue – How much money you are making. This is obviously going to be the most important of all, so be sure to pay attention to it.

Conversion Rates – This is the rate at which you are encouraging people to buy the product or otherwise carry out the specified task.

Cost Per Sale – How much money you had to spend in order to make each sale happen. You obviously want this to be as low as possible.

Return On Advertising Spend – For any direct advertising you have done, you want to be able to show that you got a lot in return, and this is a major indicator of how well you are doing.

Average Order Value – As it says, how much your average order was worth.

Affiliate Behaviour – Getting to grips with what your affiliates are doing, and how it might be affecting your business.

Average Earnings Per Click – If you divide the total commission you earned by the number of clicks produced, you will end up with a figure which represents how much, on average, you are earning per click. That is very useful information to have.

With all of that, you can see at a glance what kind of success you are seeing, and whether there are any areas that you might need to think about working on or improving. The more aware you are of all of these, the more likely it is that you will be able to push on and succeed with your affiliate marketing.


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As you can see, there is a lot involved in the process of setting up and getting started with affiliate marketing. But as is also hopefully clear from this article, it is something which can very quickly become very lucrative, and it is worth trying out if you have the patience and time. Before long, you could be earning your keep without having to leave the sofa – and that is a dream that many people would enjoy sharing. Carry out the steps above, and heed the words of warning, and you will be in a good position to become successful in the world of affiliate marketing.