What is Affiliate Marketing and How Does It Work?

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What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate Marketing is a system which allows for revenue sharing on products sold in the online market space. A quick definition is:

“A way for a company to sell its products by signing up individuals or companies (affiliates) who market the company’s products for a commission.”  Source: www.entrepreneur.com

The digital space is large and most companies realize that even with the best marketing in the world, there are communities they may never reach simply because of the size of the internet today. The best way for companies to get their products in front of as many eyeballs as possible is to use affiliates who market those products in their own circles in innovate ways. For their effort the affiliate gets a commission.

Zac Johnson, one of the gurus of affiliate marketing says “affiliate marketing is the best option out there because you don’t need to handle any orders, hold inventory or even deal with the end customer.”

You do need to handle the consumer in some way or form but the major interaction is of course with the supplier. Nonetheless, affiliate marketing stands out as one of the top ways for companies to promote products and for marketers to earn commissions.

What is the process?

Become a merchant
If you have product you are selling, you can create an affiliate program for your product and invite people to market the product for you. In return, you pay them a commission of your choice. You will need to find a way to manage your affiliate network. This includes providing them with materials they can use to promote the product as well as materials they can read up on, which best explain what your product is about. This will ensure which the right information is reaching the end user every time.

Your affiliate program needs to be lucrative and provide value for money for any affiliates who join. A 1% commission of a $10 sale will not motivate anyone. But a 1% commission of a $10,000 sale is very motivating! So make sure the price is right for those who will put in the hard work to sell your product.

You can also sell your own product directly through hosting platforms like Shopify or EBay. Or you can list you product on Amazon and allow the Amazon Affiliate program to assist in promoting your product.

Become an affiliate
You can sign up to become an affiliate by directly applying to various product websites. Most products will have an affiliate section somewhere on their website. Or you can simply type into Google “affiliate programs for dieting”, or “affiliate programs for travel” or what ever your chosen niche is. You can check out each program individually by looking at the reviews posted by other users. This will give you an idea of how helpful the company is, whether they pay on time and whether they regularly update their marketing materials. All the above factors will make your marketing much easier.

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Step by Step Affiliate Marketing Guide

  1. Pick a platform to promote products for example a website or social media platform.
  2. Choose a niche for example fashion, dieting, travel, pets, exercise, saving money are some easy examples.
  3. Build a website or set up your social media account.
  4. Create content that speaks to your niche in text or visual formats.
  5. Join affiliate programs after you have generated some content. These programs will form the bedrock of your earnings.
  6. Create traffic by continuing to create content and promoting it. Traffic encourages people to sign up for your product.
  7. Convert traffic to sales and get paid!

How much do affiliates earn from commissions?

Different ways to earn

Earn per sale: This is the traditional way of earning as an affiliate the merchant pays you a commission with every actual sale you make. This means you have to encourage the consumer to make a direct purchase before you can get paid.

Earn per click: Here you are paid to increase web traffic on a merchant’s website. You earn based on how well you can convince visitors who come to your site to redirect their attention to the merchants’ site.

Earn per lead: There are merchants which actually offer you a commission for every lead you bring to their product website. This may involve the consumer completing a desired action like subscribing to a mailing list, downloading something or requesting a trial product.

Is there a limit to affiliate earnings?

There is no limit to how much you can earn as an affiliate. Pat Flynn is a well-known affiliate who runs his own training program. Check out some of their income reports posted on Pat’s Blog below:



So in essence the sky is the limit. What determines success is content and frequency. Content which has Search Engine Optimization (S.E.O.) will rank highly in Google, Bing and Yahoo generating free traffic for you. The more you post the more likely people are to show up on your site and the more likely you are to make money.

How can I do it well?

Make sure your content meets S.E.O. standards

Affiliate marketing won’t work well without a medium where you offer great content regularly. The best ways to do this is through a website which you can learn how to do in less which 5 minutes on some free platforms like Bluehost. You can also start a YouTube channel where you post video based content on your chosen niche regularly. It is also possible to create traffic on Pinterest or Instagram but your impact without a blog is limited.

Do your research on how to optimize you content through S.E.O. keywords. Create your content targeted at your audience by addressing issues in that niche.

Get training

In addition, you can sign up for free training with some affiliate training programs which teach potential affiliates how to do it well. I personally recommend Wealthy Affiliate which is free to sign up for. You have the option to upgrade to a paid package later.

Be consistent

What most people forget to tell you when they promise easy passive income, is that affiliate marketing is demanding especially if you create all the content yourself. It takes several posts and reviews before you can
generate enough traffic (and credibility) for people to click on your link. For that reason a lot of people give up before they start seeing returns. The passive income will come, but affiliate marketing is not a get-rich-quick scheme. It’s not like a pyramid scheme, you have to put in the work. Especially in the first 4 to 5 months when clicks haven’t started rolling in yet.

Where can I learn affiliate marketing?

I recommend signing up with Wealthy Affiliate for training on how to get started as an affiliate marketer. The training covers everything you need to know about getting started with a WordPress website. Wealthy Affiliate shows you how to pick a niche and even gives you access to affiliate networks for you to sign up and get paid.

Clickbank is another great bet. Not only do they have training available, they also have a host of products accessible right off the bat. You get training and products as soon as you sign up.

If you know how to make your content S.E.O. optimized then all you need is a way to start your blog or social media account. You can just start your own website with Bluehost. They give you support and training on how to run you website and the domain registration is free for a year.

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