What is affiliate marketing?

The search for ways to make money online will eventually turn up information on affiliate marketing. It is a business model that can be done completely from home with just a laptop and internet connection.

Affiliate marketing is, in my opinion, the best way to get started making money online, because someone else has already created the product or service, they’ve written the sales copy, and they handle all the customer service, returns and refunds. 

Affiliate Marketing is the process of earning a commission by selling someone else's products or services.  

In order to track these sale of an offer, affiliates are given a link that is unique to them.  When a customer makes a purchase using the link, the affiliate gets paid a commission.

Many big, well known companies such as Walmart, eBay, and Amazon have affiliate programs. The key to making sales as an affiliate is putting the right offer in front of the right audience. 

Having an audience that knows, likes, and trusts you when you make a recommendation for a product or service will help increase sales.

How does affiliate marketing work?

Getting started as an affiliate is a really simple process, but growing a successful business may not be easy. Many new affiliates make little or no money because they lack the skills to be successful.

Here are 5 steps to take in order to get started promoting affiliate offers:

Step 1: Choose a niche 

Step 2: Join an affiliate program or network

Step 3: Get your affiliate link and start promoting offers

Step 4: Track and optimize campaigns for conversions

Step 5; Make sales and receive commissions

 Affiliate networks are a great place to find offers and some require approval before joining. A few affiliate networks companies to consider joining include ShareASale, CJ Affiliate, Rakuten, and Clickbank. 

In order to find additional affiliate programs, simply do a web search for niche + affiliate program. So if I were looking for an affiliate program in the weight loss niche, do a search for weight loss affiliate programs.

What are the types of affiliate programs?

There are several types of affiliate offers to choose from in a huge variety of niches. Some of the types of offers available include:

CPA (Cost Per Action) - These offers pay based on actions such as email submissions, and software downloads as well as sales.

PPC (Pay Per Call) - Offers that pay based on sales made from generating phone calls.

High Ticket Offers - These offers are generally in the “make money online” niche and require that you purchase the very course or training in order to promote it.  

How do you drive traffic to affiliate offers?

Getting visitors to an affiliate offer is as easy as setting up a paid ad paying for clicks, website impressions or views. However, many factors can affect whether an offer will convert. Targeting the wrong audience, promoting a low converting offer, and using the wrong marketing channel will affect conversion rates. 

Blogging is a popular way to generate traffic by creating valuable content and using SEO (Search Engine Optimization to rank in the search engines for targeted keywords. Review sites and niche affiliate sites are other methods for generating traffic with SEO.

Some websites directly link to offers within the content which means when a site visitor clicks on a link within the blog post or article, they are immediately taken to the affiliate offer. Many affiliates also build a list of email subscribers in a niche and send marketing emails to drive traffic. 

What are the expenses to get started?

Most affiliate programs are free to join. Some of the expenses for affiliate marketing comes from tools such as website and funnel builders, hosting, and email automation. Driving traffic using paid ads and keyword tools for SEO are also expenses of being an affiliate. 

Some affiliates also use organic methods to generate free traffic from platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, and other social media channels. Moneywise these organic methods are free, but they will cost in time for content creation


Affiliate marketing allows anyone to get started earning income online by selling someone else’s products or services. Without the hassle of product development, customer service, and product fulfillment. 

The barrier for entry is low, so it’s easy to get started. However, it may not be as easy to generate consistent income without the proper marketing skills just like in any other business model. What are your thoughts on affiliate marketing? Have you tried it? Let me know in the comments below.

About the Author

Christopher Thompson is a digital marketer with a passion for helping others start and grow businesses online.