What is Affiliate Marketing and How does it work?

What is Affiliate marketing and how does affiliate marketing g works? The idea of earning when sleeping may sound unrealistic, but today it is a passive means of making money for many. 

This is what affiliate marketing is. 

It is a simple means of earning money by driving sales and generating revenues. In essence, affiliate marketing makes money not only to you but also to the brands which you are endorsing. 

In the online realm, about 81% of brands use the means of affiliate marketing to channel their product to a broader audience. 

The webmarketsupport.com states that 16 percent of all the products that are purchased online are redirected from affiliate marketing. 

Related article: Affiliate marketing for beginners and Clickbank review

What is Affiliate Marketing?

The simplest definition of affiliate marketing is— earning a small commission by selling or advertising other companies’ products (or) services. 

When you become an affiliate, it means you are acting as a salesperson for a company and helping them to sell their products, and get a reward in return. 

how affiliate marketing works
(Image Credit: Bigcommerce.com)
what is affiliate marketing
(Image Credit: Nasmi Marketing)

But there is a small difference between an online salesman and a traditional salesman— and that is when you are a salesperson for a respective company you can only earn profit from an individual company, whereas when you are an affiliate you can earn a commission from many companies of your choices (simply because you like their products). 

There are four key sides associated with marketing (online marketing to be specific); those are—the merchant, the network, the publisher, and the customer.

To eliminate irrelevant here, only two remain— the product creator and an affiliate marketer(you). 

Affiliate marketing is not just re-selling other produce, you have to even understand it better if you are a product creator. 

Many a time, many affiliates even market their product and subsequently sell other products too. 

How does Affiliate Marketing works?

The product creator or the merchant provides you with a link— to track who sold their product. 

There are two reasons why people make money easily with affiliate marketing(with the unique link provided); the first is that it assigns the merchant to track the person who is looking for the product, and the second is that it has an expiration date. 

how does affiliate marketing works
(Image Credit: Kickahar.se)

This means you will get your commission even if the consumer purchases the product within the time-frame; though it is limited to only some merchants. 

For example, Let’s say that you have a website that promotes a particular TV set. A reader visits your page and then with the link attached jumps to the affiliated website( let’s consider Amazon) and purchases the product, and that generates a small commission that you earn as a profit for redirecting them to the TV. Also, even if the consumer purchases the product after a specific duration (Amazon has a 24-hours cookie window) you will still get paid. Meanwhile, if the consumer within the time-frame purchases any other product (not the TV) you will still get paid; and also, if the consumer purchases the TV and another product, you will earn profit from both the TV and the other product; though you did not promote it. 

How to Start Affiliate Marketing?

Follow these simple steps to get your feet wet in affiliate marketing for generating income. 

Choose a Platform

You can get started on any platform— even social media platforms like Facebook, Quora, and Instagram work too. 

But, to increase affiliate sales to earn money from affiliate marketing, you have to consider your own website or a youtube channel as the audience will be high in number, and you can make more money from affiliate marketing. 

Managing and owning a website is not that hard; in fact, you can get free tutorials on the internet to get started— and it will cost you only a few dollars.

And, once your site is created and running, you have to follow some rules to optimize it as you want to be high in the search engine results page (this will increase your sales, and you will earn more profit). 

how to start affiliate marketing

And, then you can add links from affiliate programs (explained later). 

The other famous method is youtube, or you can even do both subsequently creating a website; many distinguished affiliates use this tactic— but again, know that you have to optimize even the youtube videos and attach links in the youtube description. 

But, there are some legal signing-in that will be required; nothing major— but you have to disclose that you are attaching affiliated links. This comes as The Federal Trade Commission made it compulsory to disclose money coming from endorsing. 

This is also mandatory when you promote through a website. 

What will be your niche?

There is a wide range of competition that you will face— means you cannot conquer everything that there is, but you can individually choose a specific niche and earn a lot from that. 

Do not worry about the limitation, as there will be no such issues, even the most general niche, say— Food has many corners, the kitchen essentials, the equipment of grilling, a mixer, etc.

This way, you will also get the right audience and build Genuity in the online community and rank higher in search results quickly and easily. 

The best way to choose a niche is by picking one in which you are interested. 

You do not have to be knowledgeable about the topic; your interest carries a high weightage when you compare to an expert in the field, especially when it comes to affiliate marketing. 

Meanwhile, you can also outsource the writing to experts in the field, and get high-quality work, which will increase traffic, engage visitors, and increase your affiliate sales, making you more money. 

The decision of the Platform

Affiliate programs are further classified into three categories, according to their size, and what they pay. 

  1. High-Volume Affiliate Programs which Pays Less

This is the best program if you are starting with affiliate marketing as you can easily earn money (though less when compared to the other, but it will build up eventually when you get traffic on your website). 

There is a low commission, but the products have a mass appeal. 

For consideration, take a home- accessories they are in demand, but have a low price. And, if a person clicks on your link and purchases the product, let’s say $100.00 you will get a commission which is low like $6-$7.00. But again, take into consideration if your website has a high-rank and 100 customers purchase the product from your link, you will end up earning a significant amount of $500.00 a month. 

The only thing that matters in high-volume and low-pay affiliate programs is traffic; the more traffic you can get, the more money you can make with affiliate marketing. 

And do you remember the above example? — It is of this affiliate program, which means you will get a commission for any other purchased products too. 

Low-Volume Affiliate Programs which pays more

These types of affiliate programs will generate you more substantial revenues. Still, the number of customers that are interested in the product is much less (either the competition of such products is high, or general customers do not have use of that). 

For example, many software services offer their programs with high profits ranging up to $1000.00, but the number of clients that have to purchase the product must be higher (they will give you a specific name like 100 customers in a month). 

So, there is less chance that you can drive that many customers; many will not be interested, many would have a choice. 

High-Volume Affiliate Programs which Pays More

This affiliate program is certainly not suitable for beginners as there are many chances of trickery, and the competition is much higher when it comes to legal means of affiliating. 

As I have mentioned, the first program is suitable if you are a beginner in affiliate marketing. Still, again, it is up to the individual which one they want to take and get serious about. 

If you can easily target customers (explained later), you should go with the first option; as it has a high need, and you can target a general audience. 

If you want to focus on a business group (means you have expertise regarding), you can go with the second option and attract the audience even when there is a lower number of customers. 

Content is the Key; no matter which programs you opt

Just like any other website, affiliated websites too must have a high-quality of content; and the links shall fit as a necessity, instead of a promotion. 

I’ll not speak further in this context as my other article speak of it correctly, but if you want to have a look at an example refer: tim.blog/2017/11/18/under100/

This is one of the most significant examples of selling without the promotion being too salesy. 

Driving Traffic to the website

Creating exceptional content is imperative, but if people do not know about the content; how will they be able to read it?

Because, when it comes to generating money with the affiliate program, a few visitors would not even make a click on the link, leave alone purchasing the product. And, even if they do you will earn in small amounts. 

There are some specific strategies to increase the traffic of a website (and is necessary when you are running an affiliated website).

Paid traffic has a few friends while many enemies, not just because you pay for traffic, but also that amount paid for traffic sometimes will be higher than the income. 

Especially if you are a new blogger and started with PPC ads, it is quite common for you to lose money. 

Though, it is still in the game because as soon as you pay money, you get traffic (on a large scale). 

Also, note that the moment you stop throwing money; the huge traffic will see a major backdrop. 

Money’s motivation. 

Generally speaking, if it was a business-oriented blog, the paid traffic would have been outlined as a drawback to companies. But when the affiliate marketing is in question, the estimate can achieve if you put a good approach— like, your content. 

As mentioned, affiliate marketing does not ask you to invest money (at least in large amounts), and if you do hold that budget, you can easily try to look for other means to get traffic that works well too.

They may not give the same turnaround time as paid traffic, but if you apply the means over the course of time (six-month to a year), you will get high-returns and never worry about traffic. 

Also, when you are working for the merchants who pay less money, paid traffic will be a bad idea to begin and will be burning dollars to expect a return( and most probably you will not). 

The Evergreen: Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

This is the most excellent route to increase the traffic of an affiliate website. Recognize, the underlying idea of SEO is analyzing your target audience and knowing what they need; building up content that speaks about those topics. 

And, working on some key areas to improve the rankings of the website. 

Email Listing

The very first online marketing tactic works well even today, you can create newsletters and share them with your subscribers. 

Meanwhile, work to increase your subscribers— comes from your website, also build up social channels that will link everything together. 

How to get Clicks on the Affiliated Links

Every point that I move along with depends on the more immediate, and here too— a prominent content, a considerable traffic base is essential. 

But without the earned-traffic clicking on the links, how will you make money from affiliate marketing?

There are a few critical elements that you should consider to stand high in the competition. 

Link Placement

This may not seem a big issue— as many think that if the content is well-delivered, and the product is spoken highly-about; it will not have a significant impact as customers will even scroll to the bottom of the page, And go through a process similar to digging the great wall of china to make you a profit.  

It doesn’t work like that. 

Meanwhile, if you start placing the affiliated links right from the start, it will look too salesy and promote content, and the content( thought of high-standard) will not have a value. 

Knowing where to place the affiliate link is a must and is extremely important. 

You can see that it does not make the content look spammy with unnecessary links.

Feel something, yes! It is annoying, especially when it is an affiliate website, trying them to redirect with tricks will not make them come again on your site.


There are almost 19.7M affiliate websites in the US itself, so you can imagine the competition and almost every other site is pretty much the same. So you have to be unique in coming with ideas. 

For example, few websites list their top-picks which is the author-favorite; so the customers end up purchasing that particular one. 

Remember, people do not want something new, they want something that is loved by others and in this case highly-approved. 

The Conversion of clicks to sales

There are two primary conversions that are a part of the affiliate marketing, and if you perform both of it correctly you will earn money from affiliate marketing. 

The first of which is easily manageable and all the control is with you, i.e., click to the product page— if you work on the steps listed above, you can easily get a winning scenario in this. 

The other conversion in affiliate marketing is visitors purchasing the product; this is not under your control and the conversion rates are within the reach of the merchant. 

To earn a good profit, you have to analyze how much a merchant is paying and what your share will be? 

You have to choose a program that gives high prices, while this is not always clear there are ways by which you can easily differentiate the programs that pay well from those which don’t. 

  • There may not be information about a particular program, that means you should not avoid them, rather inquire about them. 

One way to do it is by signing up and asking all the doubts you have and then proceeding accordingly. 

Questions like— what is the highest figure an affiliate marketer earns with their endorsement?  What is the average commission? 

There is nothing wrong with asking such questions if they did not make it clear. 

  • Another way to get an estimation (or to say an exact figure) is by utilizing “Public Income Reports”— this is the best way to know what is the conversion amount?

If someone is making good money with affiliate marketing, it means they have chosen the programs which convert giving a high-figure. 

There are many bloggers who make their income public, and you can learn about the best deal that is available through which they earned that amount. 

  • Little online digging can give you enough information to begin with, also use that information to dig about other programs and find one to promote and earn more than enough from those. 


There are very few things in the online realm that are safe and make money, and that is affiliated marketing— it does not ask for much investment of money. 

But to be high-ranking and earn good money from affiliate marketing, you have to invest your time (in the beginning). 

And then you can make money while sleeping. 

Some affiliated programs offer a very high amount, and you can easily earn the right amount of money from those just by starting. 

Remember, it does not ask you anything that you cannot do easily— but step-in only if you have an interest, either of niche or the money.