Affiliate Marketing 101: What it is and How to Get Started

Imagine if you could make money from anywhere, at any time, and even while you’re sleeping?

What is Affiliate Marketing and How to Get Started in 2023

This is affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing refers to the practice of a person or company marketing products through which an affiliate is paid a commission. Affiliates simply search for products they like, promote them and get a share of any sales. Affiliate links are used to track sales from one website.

Affiliate marketing can be a great way of driving sales and generating significant online revenue. The new push towards less traditional marketing strategies has proven to be extremely beneficial for both marketers as well as affiliate marketers.

Affiliate marketing spending in the United States rose from $5.4 billion in 2017 and $8.2 billion by 2022. This means that there is plenty of opportunity for anyone looking to grab a slice of the pie.

This step-by-step guide will show you how to start your affiliate marketing business and what you can expect.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a way to spread the responsibility of product marketing and creation among parties. It leverages the talents of many individuals to create a more effective marketing strategy, while also giving contributors a share in the profits. Three parties are required to make this happen:

  1. Both the seller and the product creators.
  2. Advertiser or affiliate.
  3. The consumer.

Let’s look at the complicated relationship between these three parties to ensure that affiliate marketing is a success.

Both the seller and the product creators.

A seller is an entrepreneur, solo or large, who has a product to sell. You can either sell a product, such as household goods, or provide a service like tutorials in makeup.

The seller, also known as the brand is not required to actively participate in marketing. However, they can be an advertiser and make a profit through the revenue sharing associated Affiliate Marketing works.

The seller could be an online merchant who started a dropshipping company and wants to reach new audiences by paying affiliate websites to promote their products. The seller could also be a SaaS business that uses affiliates to sell its marketing software.

The publisher or affiliate.

The affiliate, also known as a publisher is a person or company who markets the seller’s product to potential customers. The affiliate promotes the product in order to convince consumers it is valuable and beneficial. Affiliates receive a share of any revenue if the consumer purchases the product.

Affiliates may have a specific audience they market to, and often adhere to their audience’s interests. This helps affiliates attract the most potential customers to their promotion.

The consumer.

The affiliate system must be able to generate sales in order to function.

Affiliates will market the product/service through the appropriate channels, whether that be social media or YouTube videos. If the consumer finds the product valuable or beneficial, they can click the affiliate link to checkout at the merchant’s site. Affiliates receive a share of any revenue if the customer purchases the item.

Keep in mind, however, that the customer has toknow that you, as an affiliate, receive a commission on the product.

Federal Trade Commission requires affiliate marketers to clearly and conspicuously disclose any relationship with retailers. This allows the consumer to make a decision about how much weight they will endorse.

A disclaimer like “The products that I’m using in this video were given by Company X” provides your viewers with the necessary information and allows them make an informed decision about buying the affiliate product.

Types of affiliate marketing

Sometimes it’s not clear if an affiliate marketer actually used a product they’re promoting, or if it’s just for the money. It may be irrelevant to the customer either way.

Sometimes, however, customers may distrust affiliates, especially if they don’t know that the product has been tested and approved by the seller.

Pat Flynn, an acclaimed affiliate marketer, divided affiliate marketing into three types: unattached; related; and involved. This was to distinguish between affiliate marketers who are closely connected to a product from those who aren’t.

We’ll help you choose the right route by breaking down each category.


The unattached model of business means that affiliate marketers have no relationship to the products or services they promote. They are not experts or authorities in the niche they are promoting, and cannot make any claims about the product’s use.

A typical PPC campaign (pay-per click) is run by an unattached affiliate. It uses an affiliate link to hope that shoppers click the link and make a purchase.

Affiliate marketing is attractive because it doesn’t require commitment. However, it’s best for people who just want to make an income and not invest in the product or customer relationship.


While they may not use the product or services, the related affiliate marketing offers a happy medium between involved and unattached. It is for people who are related to the niche market but don’t necessarily need the product. These affiliates are often well-known and have some influence within the niche.

You might promote a brand of clothing that you’ve never tried before but have a following through a YouTube channel or fashion blog. You would be considered an affiliate marketer in this instance.

This type of affiliate marketing has many advantages. The affiliate can generate traffic with their expertise. However, they could risk recommending a poor product or service to their audience if they have never used it.


Involved affiliate marketing refers to those who have a close relationship with the product or service that they are promoting. Affiliates have tried the product and are confident in its quality. They also have the authority to make claims about it.

Instead of relying solely on clicks per click, affiliate marketers involved use their personal experiences using the product in marketing efforts. Customers can also trust them as trustworthy sources of information.

This type of affiliate marketing is more laborious and takes longer to establish credibility. However, it can lead to greater returns down the line.

How do affiliate marketers get paid?

Affiliate marketing is a quick and easy way to make money online without having to sell a product. How does an affiliate make money after linking the seller and the consumer?

It can be difficult to know the answer.

Affiliates don’t have to purchase the product in order to receive a kickback. The program will determine how the affiliate’s contribution is measured.

Affiliates may be paid in many ways.

Pay per sale

This is the most common affiliate marketing structure. After a consumer buys the product through affiliate marketing strategies, the merchant pays an affiliate a percentage. The affiliate must convince the investor to purchase the affiliate product before they receive compensation.

Pay per lead.

Pay per lead marketing programs are more complicated and compensate the affiliate for converting leads. The affiliate must convince the consumer to visit the merchant’s website and take the desired action, whether that’s filling out contact forms, signing up to a newsletter, downloading software, or other actions.

Pay per click.

Affiliate marketing is all about driving traffic to websites and convincing customers to take action. It is not surprising that many people believe affiliate marketing is about SEO (search engine optimization).

Although organic traffic is great, it’s not enough to sustain affiliate marketers in a saturated market. This is why many affiliate marketers use PPC.

PPC (pay per Click) programs encourage affiliates to refer consumers from their marketing platform directly to the merchant’s site. This means that the affiliate must engage consumers to the point where they will go to the merchant’s website from the affiliate’s. Affiliates are paid according to the amount of web traffic.

Two concepts are common in PPC:

  • CPA (cost-per-acquisition): With this model, the affiliate gets paid each time the seller or retailer acquires a lead, which is when an affiliate link takes the customer to the merchant’s online store and they take an action, such as subscribing to an email list or filling out a “Contact Us” form.
  • EPC (earnings-per-click): This is the measure for the average earnings per 100 clicks for all affiliates in a retailer’s affiliate program.

Pay per install.

This payout system pays the affiliate when a user visits the merchant’s site and installs a product. Usually, this is a mobile app or software.

If a retailer has a budget for $0.10 per install via an affiliate program and it generates 1,000 installs, the retailer will be charged $100 ($0.10 x 1000)

Why be an affiliate marketer?

Passive income

Affiliate marketing is a way to make money while you’re asleep, unlike regular jobs that require you to work. You will get continuous returns on your investment in a campaign as customers purchase the product over the next days and weeks. Your work is worth money long after it’s finished. Your marketing skills will bring you steady income even if you aren’t at your computer.

No customer support.

Selling products and services to consumers requires that they deal with them and make sure they are happy with the product or service.

The affiliate marketing structure will take care of customer service and satisfaction. The sole purpose of an affiliate marketer’s job is to connect the seller and the customer. After you have received your commission, the seller will deal with any complaints from consumers.

You can work from your home.

Affiliate marketing is an ideal solution for someone who doesn’t like going to work. Affiliate marketing allows you to launch campaigns, collect revenue and work from your home. You can work from home and do this job without even stepping out of your pajamas.


Many businesses need to pay upfront startup fees and a cash flow in order to finance the products they sell. Affiliate marketing is easy and affordable. There are no hidden fees and there is no need to create products. This line of work can be started quickly.

It is convenient and flexible.

You can be a freelancer and set your own goals. You can also redirect your path if you feel the need. You can choose the products you are interested in, as well as your hours. You can choose to diversify your portfolio or concentrate on straightforward campaigns. Additionally, you won’t be subject to company regulations or restrictions as well as any ill-performing employees.

Performance-based rewards.

You could work as many hours as you like and still make the same salary if you have other jobs. Affiliate marketing is all about your performance. It’s all about what you put in. Your revenue will increase by improving your writing skills and reviewing. Finally, you’ll get paid for the exceptional work that you do.

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Common Affiliate Marketing Channels

Affiliates have many common practices that ensure their target audience is interested in the products they promote. Affiliates may not advertise products the same way. There are many marketing channels that they can use.


A content creator with the ability to influence the buying decisions of large segments of the population is known as an influencer.

This person is well placed to profit from affiliate marketing. This person already has a large following. It’s easy for them direct customers to the seller’s products via social media posts and blogs. They receive a portion of the profits that they have helped create.

Influencer marketing campaigns are very popular on Instagram or TikTok where brands partner with experts and authorities in their niches. A campaign can include product reviews, live videos, account takeovers, or photos depending on the deal.

Although influencers may have their own brand and visual aesthetic, it is important to tie your brand elements together to increase brand recognition and recall. You can do this by using apps such as Instasize which allows you to quickly modify and customize the creatives of your campaign with a single tap.


Bloggers are able to rank organically on search engine queries and can increase a seller’s conversions via content marketing. A blogger reviews the product or service, then writes a detailed review. This drives traffic back to the seller’s website.

Bloggers are awarded for their influence in spreading word about the product’s value, which helps to increase sales.

Microsites that are geared towards paid search.

Affiliate sales can be very lucrative if you create and monetize microsites. These sites can be advertised on a partner website or in the sponsored listings of a search engine. These sites are separate and distinct from the main organization site. Microsites offer more targeted, relevant content for a particular audience. This leads to higher conversions.

Email lists

Email marketing, despite its age, is still a viable source for affiliate marketing income. Affiliates may have an email list that they can use for selling the products. Others might use email newsletters with hyperlinks to products to earn a commission once the consumer buys the product.

Affiliates can also build their email list slowly over time. They then use their campaigns to collect email addresses in large numbers and send them emails about the products they promote.

Large media websites.

These sites are designed to generate huge amounts of traffic all the time. They also aim to build a large audience of millions.

These websites promote products to their large audience by using banners and contextual links. This gives the seller and affiliate a better exposure, and increases conversion rates.

The most popular site is Amazon Affiliate Program . This program boasts the largest market share among affiliate networks (46.15%).


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