Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate Marketing: What it is and How to Get Started

Digital Marketing Ecommerce

Affiliate marketing is a way to earn a commission by promoting someone else’s product. The affiliate searches for a product they like shares it with their audience through affiliate links and earns a commission on each sale made through the link. This process can be done from anywhere and can generate passive income, even while the affiliate is sleeping.

Affiliate marketing is mutually beneficial for both brands and affiliates, as it increases sales and drives online revenue. The spending on affiliate marketing has increased significantly in the US, from $5.4 billion in 2017 to $8.2 billion in 2022, indicating growth in the industry.

For those interested in starting an affiliate marketing business, this guide provides a step-by-step approach and outlines the benefits one can expect.

How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?

Affiliate marketing is a unique marketing strategy that leverages the skills and abilities of multiple parties to create a successful and profitable outcome. The process works by distributing the responsibilities of product marketing and creation across three main parties: the seller and product creator, the affiliate or advertiser, and the consumer.

The seller and product creator are responsible for producing a quality product and providing the necessary information to the affiliate or advertiser. The affiliate or advertiser acts as the mediator, promoting the product to their audience through affiliate links and earning a commission on each sale made through the link. Finally, the consumer makes the purchase and completes the cycle.

Each party plays a critical role in the success of affiliate marketing, and their relationship must be carefully managed to ensure that everyone benefits. The affiliate or advertiser must effectively promote the product to the right audience, while the seller and product creator must provide accurate information and support to the affiliate. The consumer must be engaged and interested in the product to complete the sale.

When all three parties work together in harmony, affiliate marketing can be a highly effective and profitable strategy for all involved.

Seller and Product Creators

The seller, also known as the brand, is the individual or company responsible for producing and offering a product or service to the market. This could be anything from physical goods like household items to services such as makeup tutorials.

The seller does not necessarily have to be directly involved in the marketing efforts, but they may also act as the advertiser and benefit from the revenue generated through affiliate marketing. For instance, an e-commerce merchant who operates a drop shipping business may choose to work with affiliate sites to expand their reach and promote their products. Similarly, a software as a service (SaaS) company may leverage affiliates to help sell its marketing software.

In either case, the seller plays an important role in the affiliate marketing process, as they are responsible for providing quality products and information to support the affiliate’s efforts. They also stand to profit from the sales made through the affiliate’s marketing efforts. By partnering with affiliates, sellers can reach new audiences and expand their market, ultimately increasing their revenue and growing their business.

The Affiliate or Publisher

The affiliate, also known as the publisher, plays a crucial role in the affiliate marketing process. They are responsible for promoting the seller’s product to potential consumers in a way that highlights its value and benefits. The affiliate’s goal is to convince consumers to purchase the product, thereby increasing the seller’s sales and revenue.

Affiliates can be individuals or companies, and they typically market to a specific audience with specific interests. This allows the affiliate to create a defined niche or personal brand that appeals to their target audience. By focusing on a specific audience, affiliates can effectively promote the product and attract consumers who are most likely to make a purchase.

The affiliate’s success in promoting the product is directly tied to their ability to persuade consumers that the product is worth buying. They must be knowledgeable about the product and be able to effectively communicate its value to their target audience. In exchange for their marketing efforts, the affiliate receives a portion of the revenue generated from each sale made through their marketing efforts.

In summary, the affiliate is a key player in the affiliate marketing process, responsible for effectively promoting the seller’s product and generating revenue through sales. By targeting a specific audience and promoting the product in an appealing way, affiliates can increase the seller’s sales and revenue while also earning a profit for themselves.

The Consumer

The key role that the consumer or customer plays in the success of affiliate marketing cannot be overstated. They are the ones who ultimately make or break the sale, and their actions determine whether the affiliate will earn a commission or not.

The affiliate is responsible for effectively promoting the product or service to the consumer through various channels, such as social media, a blog, or a YouTube video. They must convince the consumer that the product is valuable and worth purchasing. If the consumer decides to buy the product, they follow the affiliate link to the merchant’s website and make a purchase. In return, the affiliate earns a commission from the sale.

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It is important to note that as an affiliate marketer, you must disclose your relationship with the retailer to the consumer. According to the Federal Trade Commission, you must make your affiliation clear and conspicuous, so the consumer is aware that you are receiving a commission for the promotion. A clear disclaimer, such as “The products I’m going to use in this video were given to me by Company X,” allows the consumer to make an informed decision about whether or not to buy the product. This level of transparency is crucial in building trust and credibility with your audience.

3 Types of Affiliate Marketing

It’s crucial to establish credibility and build trust with your audience as an affiliate marketer. It’s important to ensure your audience knows if you have tried and tested the product you are promoting. This can help increase customer trust and therefore drive more sales.

Pat Flynn, a well-known affiliate marketer, categorized affiliate marketing into three types in 2009 – unattached, related, and involved. Understanding these types can help you determine which approach is best for you, depending on the type of product you are promoting and your relationship with it.

The first type, unattached affiliate marketing, is when the affiliate is not closely tied to the product. They may simply be promoting it for the commission.

The second type, related affiliate marketing, is when the affiliate has a personal connection to the product, such as using it themselves.

The third type, involved affiliate marketing, is when the affiliate is deeply involved in the product, such as being a co-creator or co-brand.

By knowing which type of affiliate marketing you fit into, you can ensure your approach aligns with your audience’s expectations and increases the chances of success.

Unattached Business Model

In the unattached affiliate business model, the marketer doesn’t have a direct relationship with the product or service they are promoting. Unlike other affiliate marketers who might have tried or used the product themselves, unattached affiliates lack personal experience or expertise in the niche of the product they are promoting. Consequently, they cannot offer any personal insights or opinions about its performance or use.

To market the product, unattached affiliates often rely on paid advertising methods such as pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns. They promote the product using an affiliate link and hope that shoppers will click on it, leading them to the merchant’s website, and make a purchase.

While this model of affiliate marketing might seem attractive for its simplicity and lack of commitment, it is often pursued by those who are only interested in generating an income without having to invest time or resources into the product or building a relationship with the customer. This type of affiliate marketing may not be as effective for marketers who want to establish a connection with their audience and build trust with them over time.

Related Affiliate Marketing

Related affiliate marketing is a powerful strategy for those who have a strong connection to their niche audience, even if they haven’t personally used the product or service. By leveraging their expertise and established following, these affiliates offer a unique blend of authority and influence. As a related affiliate, you could be promoting a clothing brand through your fashion blog or YouTube channel, for instance. The key benefit of this approach is that affiliates bring their traffic-generating skills to the table, though they must be cautious not to damage their credibility by endorsing a subpar product or service that they have not tried.

Involved Affiliate Marketing

Involved affiliate marketing represents the pinnacle of affiliate marketing excellence, where the affiliate is a true champion of the product or service they are promoting. With personal experience and trust in the product, these affiliates bring unparalleled authority and credibility to their marketing efforts. Unlike typical affiliate marketing that relies on pay-per-click, involved affiliates leverage their own experiences to connect with customers and establish themselves as reliable sources of information. While it requires a bit more effort to cultivate credibility, the rewards of being an involved affiliate marketer are substantial and long-lasting.

How Do Affiliate Marketers Get Paid?

Affiliate marketing is a highly attractive option for those seeking to supplement their income online, as it provides a convenient and cost-effective way to earn money without the hassle of selling a product directly. But how exactly do affiliates get paid for linking the seller to the consumer? The answer can be a bit complex.

Payment to the affiliate doesn’t necessarily require the consumer to purchase the product. The compensation an affiliate receives is often contingent on various factors and can be measured in different ways, depending on the specific affiliate program. The ways in which an affiliate can get paid include:

  • Commission based on sales
  • Pay-per-click
  • Pay-per-action
  • Commission on leads generated

In short, the payment method for affiliates can vary widely and can be influenced by a number of factors, including the type of product, the size of the target audience, and the specific terms of the affiliate program. However, the key takeaway is that affiliate marketing provides a flexible and diverse range of opportunities for earning income online.

Affiliate Pay Per Sale

The cornerstone of affiliate marketing is the standard affiliate structure, where affiliates are rewarded for their efforts in driving sales to the merchant. Here’s how it works: the affiliate implements various marketing strategies to direct consumers towards the merchant’s product, and if the consumer makes a purchase, the affiliate earns a commission based on a percentage of the sale price. Simply put, the affiliate must successfully connect the consumer with the product before they can reap the benefits of their hard work.

Affiliate Pay Per Lead

For those seeking a more intricate earning model, pay-per-lead affiliate marketing offers a challenging and rewarding opportunity. In this system, affiliates are compensated based on their ability to convert leads into action. The affiliate’s task is to convince the consumer to take a desired step, whether it’s filling out a form, trialing a product, subscribing to a newsletter, or downloading a file, on the merchant’s website. This type of affiliate marketing rewards affiliates who possess the skills to not only generate leads but convert them into tangible results, making it a highly coveted and lucrative opportunity for top-performing affiliates.

Affiliate Pay Per Click

Affiliate marketing is a game of driving traffic and converting clicks into action, so it’s no wonder that SEO is often considered the backbone of this industry. However, in today’s oversaturated market, relying solely on organic traffic is not enough to achieve success. Enter PPC (pay-per-click), the strategic solution to maximizing profits in affiliate marketing.

PPC programs incentivize affiliates to redirect consumers from their marketing platform to the merchant’s website, paying based on the increase in web traffic. This requires affiliates to engage consumers and guide them toward taking action on the merchant’s site.

Two of the most popular PPC models are CPA (cost-per-acquisition) and EPC (earnings-per-click). In CPA, the affiliate is compensated each time the seller acquires a lead through the affiliate’s link. Meanwhile, EPC measures the average earnings per 100 clicks for all affiliates in a retailer’s program.

In conclusion, PPC is a crucial aspect of affiliate marketing, providing a valuable solution for affiliates seeking to stay ahead of the competition and increase their earnings.

Affiliate Pay Per Install

The cost-per-install affiliate marketing program rewards affiliates for their ability to drive users to not only visit the merchant’s website but also to take the crucial step of actually installing a product. This creates a win-win situation for both the retailer and the affiliate, as the retailer receives a new customer and the affiliate earns a commission for their efforts.

With this method, the affiliate’s payout is directly tied to their effectiveness in promoting the product and can result in substantial earnings for high-performing affiliates. For example, if a retailer allocates a budget of $0.10 for each installation generated through their affiliate program, and the affiliate is successful in driving 1,000 installs, the retailer would pay an impressive $100 to the affiliate.

Why Be an Affiliate Marketer?

Passive Income

Affiliate marketing offers a level of financial freedom that other careers simply can’t match. By setting up a successful campaign, you can reap the rewards for a long period of time, even when you’re not actively working. This is the epitome of passive income. As you invest time into your campaign, you’ll see your earnings continue to grow, even as you sleep. Imagine waking up to find that your marketing efforts have generated a steady stream of income while you were dreaming. That’s the beauty of affiliate marketing, where the sky’s the limit!

No Customer Support

As an affiliate marketer, you can bask in the glory of hands-off customer satisfaction. Your focus is solely on connecting the seller to the consumer and driving sales. The seller bears the responsibility of ensuring customer satisfaction and handling any complaints that may arise, leaving you to revel in the rewards of your commission-based success without the hassle of customer support.

Work From Home

Unleash the freedom of a location-independent lifestyle with the power of affiliate marketing. No more endless commutes, no more cubicles, no more office politics. With affiliate marketing, you can unleash your full potential, and turn your passion for marketing into a lucrative career, all from the comfort of your own home. So, sit back, relax, and take control of your income, without ever having to leave the comfort of your pajamas.

Cost Effective

For those looking to start their own business without the hassle of hefty upfront costs and ongoing financing, affiliate marketing offers a refreshing alternative. With a low barrier to entry and no need to create a product or worry about unexpected fees, starting a career in affiliate marketing has never been easier or more accessible. Embrace the flexibility and freedom of working from anywhere, at any time, and turn your entrepreneurial dreams into a reality with the power of affiliate marketing. 

Convenient and Flexible

Because you are essentially becoming a freelancer, you have complete autonomy in setting your own goals, redirecting your path when you feel so inclined, selecting the products that interest you, and even determining your own hours. Because of this convenience, you can diversify your portfolio or focus solely on simple and straightforward campaigns. You will also be free of company constraints and regulations, as well as underperforming teams.

Rewards Based on Performance

In the world of affiliate marketing, hard work truly pays off. Unlike traditional jobs where effort may not always equate to higher pay, in this field, the more you put in, the more you can reap. Your earnings directly reflect your ability to craft compelling campaigns, hone your reviewing skills, and drive results. So, it’s time to say goodbye to being undervalued for the outstanding work you do and hello to a limitless earning potential that rewards your dedication and drive.

Common Types of Affiliate Marketing Channels

Most affiliates follow similar practices to ensure that their target audience is engaged and willing to buy promoted products. However, not all affiliates promote the products in the same way. In fact, they have a variety of marketing channels at their disposal.


Influencers are the modern-day tastemakers, wielding the power to shape the buying habits of vast swathes of the populace. They possess a unique advantage in the realm of affiliate marketing, leveraging their significant following to steer consumers towards merchants’ offerings via social media posts, blogs, and other interactions. By doing so, they earn a slice of the profits they helped to generate.

Influencer marketing has exploded in popularity on platforms such as Instagram and TikTok, where brands form strategic partnerships with influencers regarded as authorities or experts in their respective niches. These partnerships can encompass product reviews with eye-catching photos, full-fledged account takeovers, or live video sessions.

To maximize the effectiveness of an influencer marketing campaign, it is crucial to align the influencer’s personal branding and aesthetic with that of the brand. This is easily achieved through the use of editing tools such as Instasize, which allows for quick customization and branding of the campaign’s creative content with just a few taps.


Blogging is a potent weapon in the arsenal of content marketing, with the potential to elevate a brand’s online visibility through organic search engine rankings. The bloggers, acting as brand ambassadors, sample the product or service and craft comprehensive reviews that effectively highlight its value proposition, generating traffic and increasing conversions for the seller.

The blogger’s impact is far-reaching, leveraging their influence to create a buzz around the brand and bolster its sales. By championing the brand and extolling its virtues, bloggers play a crucial role in driving the seller’s success.

“Monetizing microsites presents a lucrative opportunity for affiliate sales, through strategic advertising on partner sites or sponsored listings on search engines. These standalone sites, distinct from the main organization’s website, offer laser-focused, highly relevant content that speaks directly to a target audience, leading to higher conversions and greater return on investment.

With their simple, straightforward call to action, microsites have the potential to drive significant revenue and elevate the brand’s online presence. It’s an innovative approach to affiliate marketing that should not be overlooked.

Email Lists

Email marketing may be rooted in tradition, but it remains a powerful tool in the affiliate marketer’s arsenal. Affiliates can tap into their email lists to promote the seller’s products, or utilize email newsletters complete with hyperlinks to drive conversions and generate commission.

For those looking to maximize their earning potential, building an email list is a proven strategy. By collecting emails through various campaigns, affiliates can grow their list over time and send targeted emails promoting the products they are affiliated with, capturing the attention of their audience and driving sales.

Large Media Websites

Traffic-generating behemoths, these websites are designed to amass massive audiences, numbering in the millions. They harness the power of banners and contextual affiliate links to promote products to their vast following, resulting in unmatched exposure and sky-high conversion rates.

Leading the charge is Amazon’s flagship affiliate program, Amazon Associates, which dominates the affiliate network landscape with a commanding 46.15% market share.

Joining Amazon as leading name in affiliate marketing are:

Alternatively, you can contact retailers directly to see if they have an affiliate program. If not, they may still be willing to provide you with a special coupon or discount code to share with your audience in order to increase traffic to their online store.

Tips to Help You Become A Successful Affiliate Marketer

Are you ready to embark on the exciting journey of affiliate marketing? Look no further! Our team has curated the ultimate list of expert tips to help launch your success and take your online marketing game to the next level.

Develop a Rapport With Your Audience

When starting out in affiliate marketing, you’ll want to target an audience with very specific interests. This allows you to tailor your affiliate campaigns to that niche, increasing the chances of conversion. You’ll be able to market to the people who are most likely to buy the product if you establish yourself as an expert in one area rather than promoting a wide range of products.

Make It Personal

Unleash the full potential of your affiliate marketing efforts by hand-picking products that align with your beliefs and favorite brands. Your campaigns should revolve around truly valuable offerings that your audience will appreciate, helping you to achieve impressive conversion rates while elevating the credibility of your personal brand.

Maximize your reach by mastering the art of email outreach. Utilize powerful tools like ContactOut or Voila Norbert to gather the right contacts and send personalized emails that secure guest blogging and affiliate opportunities. With a keen eye for product selection and a sharp focus on outreach, you’ll be unstoppable in the world of affiliate marketing.

Start Reviewing Products and Services

Concentrate on reviewing products and services that are relevant to your niche. Then, using the rapport you’ve built with your audience and your position as an expert, tell your readers why they should buy the product or service you’re promoting.

If there is an affiliate program, almost anything sold online can be reviewed — you can review physical products, digital software, or even services booked online, such as ride-sharing or travel resort booking.

Comparing this product to others in the same category is especially effective. Most importantly, ensure that you are producing detailed, articulate content in order to increase conversions.

Use Several Sources

Spend time making money with a blog, creating landing pages, posting on review sites, reaching out to your audience on social media, and even looking into cross-channel promotions instead of just an email campaign.

Try out different digital marketing strategies to see which ones your target audience responds to the best. Use this technique frequently.

Choose Campaigns With Care

No matter how good your online marketing skills are, a bad product will cost you less money than a valuable one. Before promoting a new product, take the time to research its demand.

Before collaborating, thoroughly research the seller. Your time is valuable, and you want to make sure you’re investing it in a profitable product and a seller you can trust.

Stay Current With Trends

The affiliate marketing industry is highly competitive. You’ll want to stay on top of any new trends in order to stay competitive.

Furthermore, you will almost certainly be able to benefit from at least a few of the new marketing techniques that are constantly being developed.

Make sure you’re up to date on all of these new strategies to ensure that your conversion rates, and thus revenue, are as high as possible.

Frequently Asked Questions on Affiliate Marketing

Is Affiliate Marketing Legal?

Yes, affiliate marketing is legal. As long as the affiliate marketer follows the laws and regulations related to advertising and marketing, affiliate marketing is a legitimate business model. However, it is important to be transparent about affiliate relationships and to follow the guidelines set by advertising regulators.

What are the best affiliate marketing products?

The best affiliate marketing products can vary depending on the niche, target audience, and the affiliate marketer’s personal preferences. Some popular products for affiliate marketing include:

  1. Digital products such as online courses, ebooks, and software.
  2. Physical products like health supplements, kitchen appliances, and beauty products.
  3. Subscription-based services like streaming platforms, online workout classes, and meal delivery services.
  4. Financial products such as credit cards, loans, and investment products.

Ultimately, the best affiliate marketing products are those that have high demand, offer a good commission structure, and have a strong brand reputation. It is important for the affiliate marketer to conduct thorough research and choose products that align with their values and those of their target audience.

What is the three 3 best affiliate marketing?

There is no single “best” affiliate marketing program as the effectiveness of an affiliate program depends on various factors such as niche, target audience, and the affiliate marketer’s personal preferences. However, here are three highly regarded affiliate marketing programs that many marketers find successful:

  1. Amazon Associates – Amazon has a wide range of products available for promotion, making it a popular choice for affiliates.
  2. Commission Junction (CJ) – This program offers access to a large network of advertisers, including major brands in a variety of industries.
  3. ClickBank – This platform specializes in digital products such as online courses, ebooks, and software, and is known for offering high commission rates for successful sales.

It’s important to remember that these are just a few examples and that the best affiliate marketing program for a specific marketer will depend on their niche, target audience, and individual goals.

Who is eligible for affiliate marketing?

Anyone can participate in affiliate marketing, regardless of their background or previous experience. However, it is important to have a strong understanding of the products or services you want to promote and the target audience you want to reach.

In addition, to participate in most affiliate marketing programs, you need to have a website or platform to promote the products, as well as a method of tracking clicks and sales, such as a unique affiliate link.

Note that some affiliate marketing programs have specific requirements, such as a minimum number of website visitors or a minimum amount of traffic to be eligible to participate. It is important to thoroughly review the requirements and guidelines of each affiliate program you are interested in before signing up.

Can I start affiliate marketing with no money?

Yes, it is possible to start affiliate marketing with no money. There are several free methods for promoting affiliate products, such as:

  1. Blogging: You can start a blog and write articles related to the products or services you want to promote.
  2. Social Media: Utilize your personal social media accounts to promote affiliate products to your followers.
  3. Content creation: Create videos, podcasts, or infographics related to the products you want to promote and share them on free platforms like YouTube or LinkedIn.

Keep in mind that while starting affiliate marketing with no money is possible, it may limit the scale and reach of your efforts. Investing in paid advertising or a website can greatly increase your visibility and effectiveness as an affiliate marketer. Ultimately, the amount of money you want to invest in your affiliate marketing business will depend on your goals and budget.


Affiliate marketing via reviews, blogs, social media, webinar software, and other platforms is a new frontier in marketing that is just waiting to be explored.

If you follow the advice in this article, you will be able to engage your audience, convert passive readers into active consumers, and increase your paycheck one click at a time.

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