Affiliate Marketing For Beginners: What You Need To Know

If you’ve ever come across Tim Ferris’ iconic book about working just four hours a week, you’ve probably dreamed of sipping a mojito on the beach while your money worked for you in the background. One of the main ideas he keeps talking about is the concept of passive income.

Having such an income chart is the main goal of many online entrepreneurs:

For many entrepreneurs looking to build an online business, or marketers looking to monetize their web traffic, affiliate marketing is often the start to generating income.

Affiliate marketing is one of the world’s most popular methods of generating passive income online, and it’s growing. In fact, affiliate marketing spending is set to grow to $ 8.2 billion by 2022, up from $ 5.4 billion in 2017.

If you’re looking for a complete guide to affiliate marketing, read more about how to promote products as an affiliate for an additional source of income.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a performance-based marketing tactic in which a retailer, usually an online retailer, rewards a website with a commission for every customer referred to through the website’s promotional activities. Often referred to as an affiliate, the website only gets paid if its advertisement results in a transaction.

There are usually four parties involved in affiliate marketing:

  • Member organizations: The promoters of the product
  • Product developer: The creators of the product
  • Networks: The networks that the affiliates manage
  • Consumer: The end users of the product

Affiliate Marketing Model


You don’t always need a network to become a partner, but the other three parties (the partners, the product developers, and the consumers) form the core of an affiliate program.

Who are the partners?

An affiliate, also known as a publisher, can be an individual or a corporation. Typically, these will be other bloggers or content creators involved in the industry of the product they are creating.

They help promote the product or service by creating content such as blog posts, videos or other media.

They can also promote their content to get transactions by running ads, collecting SEO searches, or building an email list.

When one of their visitors creates a transaction, which could be a purchase or submitting a lead form, the affiliate receives a commission. How much commission is structured depends on the terms of the affiliate program.

Who are the merchants?

A merchant, also known as a product creator or advertiser, is usually the creator of the product or service. They offer royalties and commissions to individuals or other businesses (affiliates) that have significant following for their brand.

The merchant can be a company like HubSpot, which offers a commission to each partner who can get their visitors to buy.

Or it could be a person like Pat Flynn offering an affiliate program with their podcasts.

The dealers can be anyone from the solo preneur to the large corporation as long as they are willing to pay their affiliates to complete a transaction.

Sometimes the merchant doesn’t even have to be the product creator, as in the case of the Amazon Associates program.

Who are the affiliate networks?

An affiliate network acts as an intermediary between the merchants and their affiliates. In some cases a network is not required, but some companies work with a network to add a layer of trust.

The network manages the relationship and provides third-party checks and balances. Third party reviews can be important as they reduce fraud rates.

Some popular networks are ClickBank and ShareASale.

Some merchants choose to work with an affiliate network because they lack the time or resources to track, report, and manage payments to the affiliates. You can also choose to work with multiple partners or publishers within the partner network.

Who are the consumers?

The consumers or customers are the ones who carry out the transaction. They are the ones who buy the product or submit the lead form for the affiliate to receive the commission.

How does affiliate marketing work?

Affiliates are typically paid whenever a visitor creates a transaction, e.g. B. a click, a form submission, or a sale. Affiliate marketing is mostly based on performance. This means that as an affiliate, you only get paid when your visitor takes an action (instead of just visiting your website).

For example, let’s say you owned a popular knitting blog with 100,000 hits a month, and a knitting supply company contacted you to promote their needles and threads on your website. As an affiliate, you would place links to their products in your blog content. In this case, you will receive affiliate income when a visitor landed on your blog and took an action – either a click, a form submission, or a purchase.

We’ll talk more about how to get paid in the next section. In the meantime, here are some common affiliate marketing models:

Pay-Per-Click (PPC): The partner is paid for all clicks that were generated, regardless of whether a lead or a sale occurred. This is pretty rare as all of the risk lies with the product creator.

Pay-Per-Lead (PPL): The partner is paid for every lead they generate. This can be an online form submission, a trial, or a pre-purchase. This is a common risk for both the trader and the affiliate.

Pay-Per-Sale (PPS): The partner is paid for every sale they generate. This is the most widely used model as all of the risk lies with the partner.

Now let’s talk about how to get started in affiliate marketing.

How to start affiliate marketing

  1. Choose a platform and a niche.
  2. Build an audience.
  3. Sign up for an affiliate program.
  4. Select products to be promoted.
  5. Create remarkable content promoting your partner products.
  6. Optimize and track.
  7. Get paid.

When it comes to affiliate marketing, most people think that it is a process of earning a commission by promoting other people or companies’ products.

While affiliate marketing can seem straightforward – just find a product you love, promote it, and make a profit with every sale – there are actually a few moving parts you need in a monitor.

1. Choose a platform and a niche.

To be a partner, you have to be influential. Setting up a website or blog that specializes in a niche is the best way to gain influence. Whether your focus is on finance, personal health, business, or even cats, having a niche blog or website will help you gain influence and build an audience.

Affiliate marketers build their target groups via blogs (on WordPress or HubSpot), via newsletters or even on YouTube or other social media channels.

2. Build an audience.

A large, engaged audience is a very valuable asset to any blog or website. When you have people reading, viewing, and engaging with your content, you can generate affiliate income.

The best way to build an audience is to first determine who your target audience is. You can find your target audience by searching for competitors, monitoring your traffic, and doing firsthand research by speaking to subscribers and customers.

Once you start this group, you can grow and cultivate your loyal online audience through targeted content and email. Give your audience a reason to read and engage with your content, and they will find a reason to buy your recommended products too.

3. Sign up for an affiliate program.

The best way to start affiliate marketing is to sign up for an affiliate program like the Amazon Associates or HubSpot Affiliate Program. After registration you will receive an affiliate link that contains a unique ID. You can then use this link in your content.

When you join an affiliate program, there are usually no upfront costs. However, your variable running costs will depend on how you want to promote the products. When you outsource content or run ads, those costs are pulled out of your pocket.

4. Select the products to be promoted.

Choosing the right product to advertise, working with the right company, maintaining relationships, and updating content are basic requirements for excellence in affiliate marketing.

According to Pat Flynn, one of the pioneers in creating passive income by creating value for his audience, there are two important rules for affiliate marketing:

  • Only recommend products as partners that you are very familiar with. If you don’t trust the product and don’t think it will help people, don’t promote it.
  • Never tell someone to buy a product directly. Always recommend products based on your experience and in the context of your activities.

When choosing the right products, David Gonzalez, founder of an affiliate management agency, recommends that you should think about these three components when choosing a product to promote:

  1. Your audience: Will the product resonate with them and make them grateful for promoting it?
  2. Product quality & value: Would you recommend your best friend to buy it?
  3. Profitability: Does the offer have very competitive conversions and payouts?

After reading these recommendations, do you think about products?

5. Create remarkable content promoting your partner products.

For the best success with affiliate marketing, you need to create real and noteworthy content promoting your chosen products. Write a roundup blog post of your favorite products. Create comparison tables that explain the benefits of similar products. Ask other users and fans of the products to have different opinions.

No matter what type of content you create, make sure it has authentic reviews and mentions of your partner products. Avoid discussing and promoting products that you have not used yourself.

6. Optimize and track.

Whenever your visitor clicks on your unique affiliate link, a cookie is placed in their browser to track actions.

If they are making a transaction that is a Qualifying Action (it may be a sales or lead form submission, depending on the program terms), the merchant can record that action and associate it with you as an affiliate for a Action can perform payout.

You should also keep track of your own affiliate content to see what worked well and what you can improve and promote. Understanding what content will resonate best with your audience will allow you to focus on what to focus on in future affiliate marketing opportunities.

7. Get paid.

There are different structures for the payout, which vary depending on the conditions of the affiliate program.

Commission payouts by the company are usually granted on a monthly basis, but this depends on the terms of the affiliate program.

This can be a weekly payout or a monthly payout for all leads or sales you’ve made.

You should pay attention to the payout structure when choosing an affiliate program to participate in, which ultimately depends on your goals.

You might want to understand the commission structure of the company or the product builder. Are you looking for a commission per sale or a commission per generated lead? Are you looking for a recurring commission or one-time payment?

Depending on your goals, this will affect which product you choose, how you want to promote the product, and how much time and resources you want to invest.

For example, if you are promoting your content through paid ads, you need to consider these costs. You need to compare how much you spent promoting each content or generating each purchase, and how much commission you get on each recommended sale.

When you have a blog and website, you have to pay for hosting. In this case, this should be a flat fee spread across all of the sales you recommend.

Use this marketing plan generator to calculate how much you need to invest to get a basic marketing plan up and running.

How Much Can You Make From Affiliate Programs?

You might be wondering what the incomes of the incumbent partners are? (Established partners are full-time employees.) Well, it varies. I’ve seen Super Affiliates make over $ 100,000 a month.

Making money with an affiliate program is more about the profits than the income you generate.

A partner who makes $ 5,000 / day may be worse off than another partner who makes $ 500 / day with no cash outflow because the former may spend most of their revenue on paid acquisitions.

Ultimately, you need to align your expectations with your earning potential before becoming an affiliate. What industry or niche you are in and what type of work you do depends a lot on how much you want to earn.

When you focus on ads like AdWords or Facebook to promote your affiliate products, how much money you invest is just as important (if not more) how much you make.

Affiliate Marketing For Beginners

Too often I hear this misunderstanding: Affiliate Marketing is Dead.

In today’s online marketing landscape, it is often mentioned that one variant of X is dead – SEO, email, cell phone, etc.

The Test of Time is a pretty good test; If something has stayed close for a while, there is a better chance it will stay close for a while.

Everything is evolving and there are tactics that don’t work exactly as they did before. Affiliate marketing, of course, is no exception to this rule.

Affiliate marketing has gone from being a get-rich-quick program to something that requires you to build real trust with your audience in order to reap the rewards for the work you have done.

Ultimately, to become a successful affiliate marketer as a beginner, you need to nail down the basics of marketing. Authenticity is hard to fake, especially when it comes to building your own brand.

A brand that continuously promotes products with no concern for adding real value to their audience will view affiliate marketing as a short-lived source of income. Choosing the right products for advertising, born from a real passion for what the product does, forms the basis of all your promotional activities.

While there are many tactics to scale your advertising, the golden rule of affiliate marketing remains the same: only promote products that you love and treat your audience like people.

Build your own brand, choose products you love, create authentic content and you are well on your way to building a real passive source of income.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in December 2018 and has been updated for completeness.

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