What is Affiliate Marketing, and How to Make Money with It (A Step-by-Step Guide)

Affiliate marketing is a form of online marketing that enables you to make money by selling someone else's products. Learn more about affiliate marketing here

How to Get Started With Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is commission-based advertising. You earn a commission every time you drive business and someone purchases the product or service that the company provides.

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How does affiliate marketing work?

Some people believe that this is a fancy word for commission-based advertising.

The truth of the situation, however, is much simpler: all one needs to do to start an affiliate marketing campaign is sign up with select affiliate networks such as Commission Junction and promote the merchants they want customers to associate their products/services with (eBay, Amazon, etc.).

In the 4-Hour Workweek, Timothy Ferris talks about how one can earn a full-time salary in four hours or less. The ultimate goal? Passive income

Passive income

Passive Income is made up of all the money earned without having to work on it directly for each hour invested.

This includes money from things like stocks, bonds, rental properties, and royalties from an intellectual property like books and movies.

Tim Ferris’s book focuses on making passive income streams through creative ways such as outsourcing your job to other countries or starting a blog that earns you advertising revenue through Google AdSense or creating an affiliate marketing website.

Affiliate marketing definition

A type of internet marketing where an affiliate earns commissions from sales made through their own product or service recommendations using a central website such as 

What are the different parties?

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Accord to Neil Patel, there are 4 different entities to look at when it comes to affiliate marketing:

The merchant: This is the person that provides products or services for the affiliates to sell. 

The affiliate: This is a person that sells the product/service for someone else by referring customers to them and promoting their wares or their service through means such as online articles, email marketing, forum postings, and even sales letters.

The affiliate can also be known as the publisher. This refers to websites like blogs that publish posts relating to the merchant's product (or similar products of competitors).

As an example, if Alice has a blog post about sewing clothes she could write articles about making blouses out of old t-shirts or how one can use some old band shirts to make a dress.

These posts will then drive traffic back towards these merchants offering products/services related to creating such clothing from used garments. 

The consumer: These are the people that read the content on publishers' websites and decide to visit a merchant's website in order to purchase their product or service.

The network: These are companies like Commission Junction that specialize in connecting publishers to merchants and setting up affiliate networks.

How to become an online affiliate marketer?

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The first step is to sign up with an affiliate partner network such as Commission Junction.

After that one needs to choose a niche (i.e., sports, computers, travel) and put together an interesting website or blog on the subject you want to talk about.

Then it's time for marketing! You will be able to earn money by driving traffic through your site in order to sell products and services from other businesses, get affiliates and become a successful affiliate marketer!

Review products in your niche

Write reviews on products that you have tried and deemed worthy of your recommendation.

Don't worry about being too brief or long, just keep the information interesting and relevant to your niche so that people will want to continue reading!

Remember! If a potential customer is not compelled enough by what they read or see then they will go elsewhere. That is the purpose of reviews, to inform potential customers and persuade them to buy something.


Creating traffic through a blog or website will be more difficult than making revenue since you have to get visitors first before earning any money.

However, you could still create revenue using affiliate network software like E-junkie. It will allow you to sell products on your site in order to earn commissions from each sale made. 

Making use of categories and tags can be very useful when it comes to search engine optimization (i.e. backlinks) for people who visit your site to find what they need rather quickly and go elsewhere if not.

Earn a passive income from blue-chip companies (e.g. Amazon)

If you are able to create an active and profitable blog then you will be eligible for joining a program like Amazon Associates for example that will allow you to earn commissions from referrals made by your website(s).

You can review products in order to give other people an idea of what they can expect when buying them as well. The more traffic designed towards these merchants, the more sales you are likely to make!

Content network is another good way of earning passive income through a membership website where members pay monthly fees in order to access certain blogging features and content through the site in question.  This is better than an affiliate network since there will only be one merchant as opposed to many that will require more affiliate marketing efforts in order to gain traffic.

The main idea here is to provide value on your website(s) in any way possible since that will be the criteria that visitors will use when deciding whether or not they should buy something from you versus going elsewhere.

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When choosing a niche remember that you want to create content for which people are searching via search engines such as Google or Bing for example (keywords).

Search engine optimization can help give your site more visibility and bring visitors who may eventually become customers!

For instance, if one wants to sell cell phone accessories online then writing articles about tips on how to get the most out of their new smartphone would be beneficial rather than reviewing old models since people will search for those keywords!

Build an email list and target your prospects

Email marketing is very effective in the sense that you can get your message across to a segmented audience who has given their permission in order to receive updates on your niche.

This is an excellent way to get more traffic since you can send coupons, deals, and other promotional materials so that if they are not interested then they can opt out and your income won't be affected.

Creating a mailing list is free for beginners, so I suggest that you use it!  The sooner the better.

Create relationships with your target audience

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Act as if you were an ordinary guy who wanted to give an opinion about something in order to increase the likelihood of actually creating a relationship with people.

Remember that an affiliate marketer will always have customers on hand (or at least available) when he or she needs them so don't limit yourself by thinking too much about what others want or how to deliver value!

Do what YOU are passionate about! The only difference is that you will be making money from doing this rather than being bored at work! 

Make sure that your site is optimized for mobile devices

This is a must, especially if you are keen on making a profit since the traffic from mobile devices is quickly growing and it's up to you to provide a good experience for visitors.

This can be done either by creating a responsive design or by using apps such as Google Adsense.

It all depends on how much one wants to spend and what they consider to be more important (speed of page loading or appearance).

If your niche happens to have some sort of seasonality in terms of sales then this should be taken into consideration when designing a marketing campaign.

For instance, if you are targeting Christmas shoppers then try sending out emails with the most popular items as well as other relevant about

PPC advertising for Affiliate Marketers to grow your business

Paying for ads will help your business grow faster than it would have otherwise.

To give you an example, let's say that one has $50 to spend on Google AdWords and he or she decides to promote a product worth $100. I

f the conversion rate is 2%, then each month he or she will make another sale by having people click on his advertisement since they want to save money! It's as simple as that.

Actually, I suggest that you begin with free Facebook advertising in order to increase brand awareness. Indeed, there are many ways of doing this outside of paying for ad clicks such as sending likes and messages directly to their inbox (i.e., pre-sales) so that some of them may eventually take action!

Use video for promotion

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Online buyers are looking for authentic information, and video starts to make a lot of sense.

According to recent studies, more than 55% of shoppers globally say they use online video while actually shopping in-store.

Customers are more likely to be attracted to this type of marketing because you present them with a selling point: who you really are. Traditional affiliate marketing has been a way to promote products and services, but many people see video as an underutilized technique.

How do I know if this will work?

"Affiliate Marketing works because everyone likes saving money when they shop online".
Neil Patel

According to a survey conducted by ShareASale, affiliates estimated that over 50% of their customers come from affiliate websites' traffic and almost 25% through search engines.

The results?

When you sign up with an affiliate network, there is no upfront cost for your business but the commission fees can be as high as 75%!

This means that if a customer spends 100$ on Amazon, the merchant could give you anywhere between $75 to $87.5 directly into your bank account! So what are you waiting for?

Start making money today and learn how to get started with affiliate marketing and make passive income online!

FAQs about affiliate marketing

What are some of the disadvantages of affiliate marketing?

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First things first: it is true that there isn't a business owner who can't do without affiliates but one should also consider that customers will most likely NOT buy something if they know about an affiliate link.

This means that you may need to create your own website with unique content and then promote it as a regular seller.

Also, since affiliates usually get paid on commission, they will try their very best to encourage people to buy products because otherwise, they won't make money from it!

One could say that this is a good thing since affiliates truly care about helping others but I am going to offer another point of view in just a moment so please keep reading.

Affiliate network companies such as CJ Affiliates, ShareASale, and LinkShare act as intermediaries between the sellers and affiliates. They take care of all sorts of things such as:

  • Providing the tools to merchants and affiliates including affiliate software
  • Taking care of technical issues related to fraud prevention, chargebacks, etc.
  • Checking for discrepancies and possible conflicts of interest

This allows business owners to focus more on their core competency which is usually creating a great product but it also means that they must pay these companies in order to get all these benefits!

It is possible to save money by joining affiliate networks early on since the fees are usually lower but there is also a much higher risk of getting into an exclusive partnership with a vendor who won't offer the best possible rates.

Agency pricing (the fee sellers charge affiliates) can vary anywhere from 10% to 50% depending on the nature of the product, its demand, and competition in similar markets.

While this may seem like a good deal for consumers, it actually isn't because a lot of people will try your product out just because you have negotiated lower commission fees with merchants!

Of course, not everyone will buy everything they see and some products simply aren't as valuable as others so let's call it fair enough: I'd rather pay $ per month to use Amazon and get $ back every time I refer someone.

How can you make money with affiliate marketing?

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Instead of investing in a merchant account, you could always buy traffic, create your own website and then promote products from various vendors on it: this is how most affiliates actually make their money!

It doesn't really matter if you have 10 or 1 000 visitors per day because there are thousands of companies just like yours who also want to sell awesome stuff online!

Setting up web hosting is usually free (or at least cheap) and even better: most hosts offer special deals on domain registration which means that the whole process costs less than $5 per month.

Not bad, isn't it? :)

This is why most beginners using affiliate marketing find it very appealing and if you ask me, this is actually a good thing.

I might change my mind later in this article but at least I want to give newbies the opportunity to learn how affiliate programs work without getting discouraged too soon!

How much money can you make with affiliate marketing? 

While it is true that affiliate marketing doesn't require a lot of money, there are also some costs involved especially if you want to get started quickly and easily.

The tools which automatically keep track of statistics for various affiliates are usually free but the ones which allow advanced tracking often cost $5-$10 per month (sometimes more).

Also, if you want to be able to promote most products within a niche so that your conversion rate is high, you will need an e-commerce merchant account in order to provide people with buyer protection!

You can expect this to cost at least $50 per month. Also remember about domain registration ($15 x 12 months = $180), hosting services ($5 x 12 months = $60) and monthly website maintenance fee (usually around $50 per month).

A bad or outdated website might not be a deal-breaker for consumers but it can definitely cost you money because affiliates who don't invest in their online persona will lose track of their performance fairly quickly and they will not know which affiliate offers are the right ones to promote!

Everyone wants to make money with affiliate marketing, no one is going to complain about extra expenses if you are doing this as a part-time job which generates some pocket change.

However, if you want to use affiliate marketing as your main source of income then you should have at least 3 months’ worth of living costs stored somewhere just in case times get hard. 

Affiliate marketing conclusion

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You can make money with affiliate marketing if you are willing to invest some time and effort.

The key, in order for it to work, is to put together a website (free) host your site on the free hosting service provided by most web hosts.

Then bring traffic from various sources (SEO and/or SEA) so as soon as someone lands on your page they know what they want to purchase because there's something at the very least enticing them - even if it's just curiosity! 

Hence, as long as you have a website ready to go, know what products are worth promoting, and research each product's commission rates before joining an affiliate network (don't forget to negotiate!), then there's no reason why someone couldn't be successful in this industry.

Let us know if we've covered everything or if you want more information! We're always happy to help you out getting started in affiliate marketing :)

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