What Is Affiliate Marketing? Everything You Need To Know

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A lot of people believe that the term Affiliate Marketing simply means writing content and earning small commissions from the products. It is much more than that and has a massive scope in every niche you know of as well as with different companies.

There are thousands of people all around the Globe that are earning millions of dollars through Affiliate commission alone. You can either choose this as your source of passive income or make it your full-time work. People tend to use the term a lot these days. I, too, have wanted it for a very long time, “Make money while you sleep.” Does it even work that way through Affiliate Marketing?

We will discuss the biggest question in this guide and know more about everything you need to know before you can get into Affiliate Marketing. Also, if you haven’t yet made up your mind about whether or not you should get into this, I would highly suggest staying with me through these topics, and you will know “what is affiliate marketing and how does it work?”.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

In the most general Wikipedia terms, Affiliate Marketing is the process from which you earn money through a commission by bringing in sales for a product, service, or any company. To add more here, Affiliate Marketing meaning here is to promote a product in the market, for example, an Acer laptop, and anyone who buys the laptop through your link, the company will pay you a small percentage of commission.

The biggest question here is what is in it for the companies giving away money to Affiliate Marketers. These Affiliate programs help the companies promote their products on a large scale and give them a boost in their sales. I have already spoken about how you can earn money through Affiliate Marketing in our guide on how you can make money online through different methods.

But, there are a lot of aspects I will be covering here to help you start things up and learn Affiliate Marketing and all the key players associated with this model.

what is affiliate marketing

Key Players in the Affiliate Marketing Model:

Assuming the fact that you now have a basic idea about affiliate marketing, let us talk about all the key players that are associated here. However, a lot of you might assume that there are only two types of players or mediums involved in this model.

One is the brand or the company that creates these Affiliate programs to promote their product. The other is the Affiliate Marketers that earn commission while promoting these products.

But if you think a little more practice and get deep into the entire network that follows, you will find that there aren’t just two rather four key participants that create this four-tier Affiliate Marketing Model. I have done extensive research from every source I could get my hands onto and because I have been a part of this model for several years and speak from my gathered experience. Let’s see what we have here.

Tier 1: The Seller/Brand/Company:

The most important part of any affiliate network is the seller or the brand that brings in their products or service for promotion in the market. It is not important that you have to be a massive Fortune 500 company to be the seller here.

In fact, you can simply be a startup with a product that requires recognition and wants more people to try it out. For example, if you have a Startup that sells hosting services, you can create your own Affiliate program and allow other Affiliates to promote it on any platform and bring them sales. I have DreamHost as an example here that gives around $100 for every sale you bring for the company.

All you need is a product or a service and that is it. Create an Affiliate Program and spread the word. Everything else simply follows.

Tier 2: The Affiliate:

Next up, we have the Affiliate Marketers, the ones we are here to talk about mainly. I have been an affiliate marketer for quite a few years now and have been running multiple sites for the same. You need to know the right platform and audience to target to promote any product. 

As an Affiliate, your sole job is to bring in more traffic and ultimately more sales on the product you have chosen to promote. It is not specifically necessary that you need to be an individual to be a marketer here; rather you can do it as a company, too, with the sole purpose of promoting products online.

You can check out so many sites on Google, where you can simply search for say “Best Gaming Laptops”. A list of so many sites will appear with extensive reviews on multiple products in their blogs where you can promote your affiliate link and earn a commission.

Tier 3: The Network/Medium:

You might have heard about ClickBank or Amazon Affiliate Program. Well, these are the networks we are talking about. When I started with Affiliate Marketing, I began with Amazon to find thousands of products to promote once you join their affiliate program. It is much easier to use and keep track of.

With these mediums, you do not have to worry about interacting with the brands directly, shipping costs, money, etc. Everything is taken care of pretty well that falls under Amazon since their service is good enough and also highly trusted. These networks have a plethora of products listed, and you can choose whichever you feel you can promote and bring in more audience and sales.

Tier 4: The Customer/Consumer:

Finally, we have the customer. Now, these are the people who are buying your product. No matter what you have to admit that sales are the most important aspect here for all the tiers in this model. Either be it the network, affiliates, or the sellers. So, it is necessary that the Affiliates reach the right audience and know how to convince them to use their link to buy products.

There are so many ways you can reach out to your customers to promote the products. We can think of some of the most common ways through social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, etc., Blogs, Ads, and other ways through content creation.

One essential aspect that you need to know as a consumer is that the affiliates add no extra price from their end to earn a commission. It is all within the process.

Moving on, I hope you have understood the concept behind each term as mentioned since it did take a lot of time and effort to give you the right information. So, without me wasting any more seconds here, let us see the process of how affiliate marketing actually works.

How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?

As I just spoke about the different players involved in the Affiliated Marketing model, you need to know how these players bring the entire process into operation.

In the most literal sense, this is how to do affiliate marketing:

  • A seller brings in their services or product for promotion or creates an Affiliate program.
  • The network acts as a medium for the affiliates to sign up for the Affiliate program and create their unique link.
  • Now, the Affiliate Marketers promote these products and services to different platforms such as Facebook Ads, Content Marketing, etc.
  • The customer goes through your ad or content and clicks on your likes to make a purchase.

As soon as the customer confirms the sale, the commission for that particular product is added to the affiliate marketer’s account.

For example, I have recently built a site/blog about six months back on the Laptop niche associated with the Amazon Affiliate Program. There are hundreds of articles on the site with quality content. As soon as someone visits my blog to read the review and tap on the unique link, the person will be directed to the Amazon site where they can make a purchase. No matter the product bought, I will get a commission within seconds that will be credited to my account. This is how everything works, and this example was simple to understand so that you can start one soon.

how does affiliate marketing work

How Do Affiliate Marketers Get Paid?

If you have this question in mind right now, I am with you, and the curious mind you have that brings in the right question. When I started out, all I ever knew was that you can only get paid as an Affiliate Marketer by bringing in sales for the product or promoting your service. However, there is a lot more to it, which you can read below.

Pay Per Click:

First off, we have the PPC or Pay Per Click method. This is one of the most popular among multiple purposes where you are rewarded for the traffic you bring to the merchant’s website. 

I have tried out this particular Affiliate Program where you need to convince the customer to an extent such that they are compelled to click on the link you have provided on your ad or website. The total traffic is then tracked by the merchant, and you are paid accordingly.

Pay Per Sale:

One of the most common methods or processes that the majority of the Affiliate Marketers follow is the Pay Per Sale model. Here you are rewarded based on every sale made through your unique link. So, for example, any customer will need to visit my personal blog, click on the link, and actually purchase any product.

Pay Per Lead:

Lastly, we have PPL or Pay Per Lead. I am surely not talking about simply converting the leads into sales. BUt rather a step backward, where you only need to bring in potential leads to the website or the company. 

You are here more like a Business Development Manager that brings in more leads to the company. Here it can be a simple form filling, surveys, feedback, and much more.

how to do affiliate marketing

How To Get Started With Affiliate Marketing?

Here are the steps I have curated that means each of them is tried and tested. You can follow them, and it will help you to know how affiliate marketing works and how you can get started on it.

Choose a Niche:

I cannot stress this enough, but choosing the right niche is the most important step of them all. You can choose a platform, create a site, or any other process that comes secondary later on.

As you know, even if you are starting today, there is massive competition for so many niches that are currently in your mind. I have struggled a lot in the starting days since every niche that came to mind had already been covered on such a massive scale. For example, gadgets such as Laptops, headsets, cameras, etc., already have huge competition.

So, what do you do now? I would personally recommend anyone reading this, to choose a micro-niche if this is your first time starting things up. What is micro-niche? Here is an example. Let’s say you are thinking about covering the Sound niche; you can simply dig a little deeper and start off with Car Audio peripherals.

There are so many sites where you can research SEO and keywords that might bring you traffic. The best I know so far and have used is, without a doubt, Ahrefs. So prepare a sheet with 50-100 good keywords and get started on it. Remember, consistency is the key here.

Choose a Platform:

You can now move on to choose a platform. When I say platform, I simply mean the place you will promote your products. You can either choose to simply create a blog; that is what I have done too since I can write well. Or else, other options are to choose social media platforms as well as Ads simply.

Furthermore, YouTube Affiliate Marketing has blown as well on a massive scale where you can find hundreds of sites reviewing different products or services and adding their affiliate links in the description to earn money. If you feel that you have that in you, there is no better way to go.

Since I have set up several blogs, it is better that we stick to it and learn more about how you can set it up for yourself. Also, you need to add a disclaimer or full disclosure that the links on your site will help you earn a small affiliate commission.

Select The Right Affiliate Program:

The next step is as important as any of the above. Once you have selected your niche and the platform to promote these products, you need to select a good enough affiliate Program that can earn you money. But this is something that you need to be careful with since there are tons of affiliate programs on the web either provided directly by the brands or on a single platform such as Amazon with many products.

There are so many sites I have come across while I was looking to start my own Affiliate Marketing services. Well, you can choose to go with websites such as Dream Host, Site Ground, etc., that have an impressive Affiliate Program where you can easily earn around $50 per sale you make if you bring in at least one lead to their hosting plan.

Similarly, the higher the commission will be depending on the sales you bring. It can go as high as $100 or even more. Moving on, if we talk about sites such as Amazon, Flipkart, Alibaba, Clickbanks, etc., these have thousands of products with low commission, such as around 8-9%, depending on the niche you have selected.

Create Quality Content:

Since I have worked with blogs and sites to promote my affiliate links, I will be giving more preference to that specific category. If you have to earn a commission or bring in more sales, the key to all of this is creating top-notch content. Whether you are looking to earn money through Google Adsense or through these Affiliate Links, having the right content is necessary.

It is important to understand what your customers are looking for and create content accordingly. For example, if you are choosing the niche as hosting services to promote through your blog, the right content will include a detailed review compelling enough for the customers to click on the link and get the service.

Bring Traffic To Your Site:

Once you have done everything, you need to apply certain methods that will drive traffic to your content. Sometimes, having good quality content is simply not enough. For example, I am creating good quality content and have enough blogs already on the site, but it will be of no use if I am unable to reach the right audience.

Now, the biggest question is what methods you can follow to bring in more people to your site as well as get clicks on these links. Here are a few methods I have tried myself that I am sharing below.

  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization): A lot of people have this misconception that SEO means finding the right keyword. Well, it is much more than that and has a multitude of benefits. It includes getting the right links to your site for link building, using the right structure, grammar, and much more. If you have considered all these factors, your content will stand out on the top page of Google Search Engine, and people will love to read what you have for them.
  • Paid Advertising: You can surely opt to get in paid advertising of your site and run ads to get the necessary traffic. If you have a high-paying affiliate program, this might not be much of an issue. But if you are just starting out on Amazon, Paid traffic might not be as profitable in the long run.
  • Emails: It might sound too traditional, but it does work. Multiple sites bring in pop-ups so that readers can subscribe to your newsletter and send them emails for follow-through. This helps to bring a more interactive relationship and allows you to keep them updated on any new article that comes up.
  • Guest Blogging: You might have seen multiple articles on other people’s websites with a slightly different pattern of content. Well, these are Guest Bloggers where they write an article or give one for your site and add in their high authority links to it. This will allow more people to come and visit and increase the authority of the site too.
affiliated marketing

Why Be An Affiliate Marketer?

I have so many reasons to give you all as to why you need to start your own site right now and get into Affiliate Marketing. It requires hard work, and there is no doubt about it. But so does everything else. If you want to win it, then there is no stopping you from becoming a full-time Affiliate Marketer and exploring more rather than simply writing blogs.

Work from Anywhere:

Frankly, apart from earning money, the best part of being an Affiliate Marketer is that you can start from any part of the world and in your own time. I love to work in the comfort of my home or workspace with no restrictions or resources as well as I am not answerable to anyone.

All you need is a good internet connection, a laptop or a system to work on, and other external aspects that you may need for your work. It sounds insanely amazing, but that is all you need. You can even take your work on your vacations too and do it in your free time.

Starting An Affiliate Business Is Super Cheap:

When I say cheap, that means it is highly cost-effective. Like I had said, you only need your internet and a system to get started. I can list down all the investments within seconds that you will need here with low or zero cost. Firstly, you will need to set up a website. For that you need to buy a domain name, get hosting, set up the right theme, and get a good writer (if only you cannot do it on your own).

It will take time to set everything up and decide on things, but it is better than anything you will come across these days based on the cost perspective.

Bring in “Passive Income”:

Even though the term passive income is something a little too out there for me personally, still if you are only for the short-term perspective, it might serve as your side income. A lot of my friends have been working in a multi-national company and have been working on their affiliate site as well on the side.

When we started this guide, I might have mentioned this particular term that yes you can “Earn Money in your sleep.” This is what I had been talking about. All you need to do is be consistent in posting content, marketing, adding links, emails, etc. It is the key.

You Are Your Own Boss:

As I had said, you are working under no one. All the content, setting up of the site, ads, marketing, management, etc., is all under you and no one else. So, practically you are your own boss. This might be your chance to start something like you always wanted to. It may not give you instant results, but it does ultimately within a few months.

Unlike working in a company as an employee and doing the same work over and over again, you can explore so many options with Affiliate Marketing. Add more to your portfolio and earn thousands of dollars.

Earning Money Has Never Been Easier With No Formal Training:

The topic says it all. You do not need any degree, certificate, or training to get started with Affiliate Marketing. Yes, there are so many courses available on the web where people are talking about their experiences, and you can always learn a lot from them. But unless you learn from your own mistakes, you may not be able to understand how it works.

It has a massive scope and spectrum to learn something every single day. I have been working as an affiliate marketer for years now, and still, there is so much to know. I do always say that earning money with this is easier as compared to another field of work. It does not mean you do not need to put your effort into it.

what is affiliate marketing and how does it work

Types of Affiliate Marketing:

There are basically three types of Affiliate Marketing that can earn you money. Here is what I found.

Unattached Affiliate Marketing:

The first we have here is Unattached Affiliate Marketing. This is the type that I too have practiced a few times and involves the PPC model. You may also have come across multiple Facebook Ads asking you to buy this particular product with the link attached. 

This is the type where there is no connection between you and the person on the other end. All you are doing here is simply putting out your link and earning money through it if someone decides to buy from it.

Related Affiliate Marketing:

Related Affiliate Marketing is something that I have been doing religiously for so many years. Yes, you guessed it right, it involves promoting the links through blogs, YouTube Videos, Social Media, etc. 

If you have the content type on your site that is related to what you are promoting, then you fall under this category. For example, writing reviews about laptops and adding affiliate links of the same. Even though you may not have actually reviewed the products, it generates a sense of trust among the readers.

Involved Affiliate Marketing:

Lastly, we have Involved Affiliate Marketing, where people are directly connected with the product they recommend. The biggest example is the Gadget reviews you see on YouTube, Influencer Marketing, and others. It all depends on the trust you build up in your followers and how convincing these products may sound coming from you.

These days, many people are more into watching someone talk about a product and then buying it than reading about it online. Hence, the market is huge, and you can use your power to influence and earn money.

Tips To Become A Successful Affiliate Marketer:

I can give you some basic steps that might help you in the long run. The key to becoming a successful Affiliate Marketer is to be aware of the constant updates around you and know your audience.

  • Pick a niche not only based on what’s trending but also what might interest you. I would surely not pick up Gardening as my niche if it does not interest me, so I might lose my will to work on it.
  • Create tailored and personal content. I mean here that you need to write the reviews on the products in a manner such that your audience might be able to connect with them on a personal level. You might take this blog as an example.
  • Yet again, I am here to remind you that you need to BE CONSISTENT. It is important, especially when you are creating a new site. For a new site, in the first few months, you need to start with consistent and quality articles each week to reach a certain level of traffic.
  • Specialize in the niche you have started. Once you have chosen a niche, make sure you have mastered it so that no other site can compete with it, at least for the time being. Do not jump over to something new just for the sake of creating more content.
  • Get more people on board in your team. It may sound a little too basic. But I have been there and made a similar mistake of trying to handle everything on my own. You need to hire a writer or someone who can manage your site with you to help it grow. Yes, you can manage it on your own, but expanding more will only be beneficial.
affiliate marketing meaning

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. Do I need a website to be an affiliate marketer?

A. Not necessarily. You can have a Blog or a website where you can create content and add your links. Else you can simply run Facebook Ads, use Google Adwords to run your campaign, and earn money. To add more here, you have an option to start a YouTube channel and promote products through it. So, there are so many ways to be an Affiliate Marketer other than simply starting a blog.

Q. Can you start affiliate marketing with no money?

A. The answer to this isn’t a straight yes. Well, you can do it, but you need to have a strong social media presence. If you are an influencer, you can join any of the Affiliate Programs and start promoting them to your massive followers. If you already have a blog or YouTube channel, you can simply add links between the content or YouTube videos description.

Q. Which product is best for Affiliate Marketing?

A. As per my personal experience, you can check out a few options as listed below. But I would recommend doing your own research based on which niche has the better scope and does not have enough quality content on the web.

  • Health and Wellness

  • Make Money Online

  • Electric Bikes

  • Computer Accessories (Micro Niche)

  • Hosting Services

Q. Is affiliate marketing worth it in 2021?

A. Yes, it surely is. The purpose of this Blog is to make you aware of this brilliant opportunity to earn money. It is worth it even now and will be in the future since we all are going digital, and the eCommerce industry is on the rise. People are looking to buy more online, be it products or software. Hence, this is the right moment for you to get started on it.

Final Verdict:

Are you satisfied with all the information you have taken from this guide about Affiliate Marketing? We have covered so much, and yet there is so much more to learn apart from all of this. From learning about “what is Affiliate Marketing?” to “How you can earn money from Affiliate Marketing,” we have covered everything you need to know.

All the steps mentioned are based on my personal experience, and nothing is imaginary. You can still research more before you start on this. It is a massive field, and you can earn money within months of starting your site. If at all you have some doubts or any queries, leave your comment down below.



My name is Sean and I started this project in 2019. It has been growing ever since. I am serial tech entrepreneur and a tech geek . My experience in blogging and technology helps me understand what type of content people are looking for and I intend to provide the information in the best possible way. I want to grow our online community in such a way that whenever someone thinks of technology, the first thing that comes to their mind, is Notion Ink.

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