If you’re just learning about affiliate marketing, everything might sound a bit confusing.
In this introduction to the affiliate strategy and marketing guide, you’ll learn the basics of how everything works.
There’s a lot of affiliate marketing industry jargon used, along with complicated software. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and not know where to start.
Therefore, you’ll want to become very familiar with some of the basic affiliate marketing terms. It can help you understand a lot of the jargon.
If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below. I’ll do my very best to help you out.
Without further ado, let’s dive right in!
Table of Contents
What Is Affiliate Marketing And How Does It Work?
Whether you’re earning active or passive income, there are plenty of ways to earn money online.
Regardless of how many ways there are to make money online, they all boil down to one simple formula. Don’t worry; it’s not hard math.
It’s simple calculations.
I’ll tell you the formula in just a sec.
But, first, you need to know what affiliate marketing is. Many people think there’s a catch to affiliate marketing.
Simply put, affiliate marketing is when you sell someone else’s stuff and expect to get paid for it. I think that’s about the simplest definition of affiliate marketing meaning I can give you.
It’s also a pretty cool way to earn passive income online. Of course, this does not happen overnight.
But when it does happen, It’s amazing to wake up to emails that say “Cha-Ching” “You’ve Got Paid,” or “money was deposited directly into your bank account”.
It’s the true meaning of what they call “earn money while you sleep.”
You might have heard different affiliates say this; it’s definitely a famous line for an internet guru.
The way the affiliate marketing affiliate system works will be explained in the next few paragraphs, so stay tuned!
History Of Affiliate Marketing:
Affiliate marketing is based on an idea called “revenue sharing.”
Revenue sharing is when a company agrees to share the profits they make with other parties. Like employees, investors, or even affiliates.
There’s even cases where the government does revenue sharing.
This ideas was first introduced in 1989 by a guy named William J. Tobin. He established an online flower shop which was called, “PC Flower & Gifts.”
It was initially thought that CDNOW.com started affiliate marketing but, no it was actually William J. Tobin who launched the very first affiliate program.
By 1995, Mr. Tobin’s affiliate program at least 2500 affiliate which they were helping his company generate millions in sales per year.
At the time, William Tobin’s affiliate program was not adopted by other merchants.
The only people who could join the affiliate program, were businesses that linked to his products on a platform called Prodigy Network.
1996, Amazon became one of the most influential players in the affiliate marketing sphere.
In fact, they were the first to open up the affiliate marketing opportunity to the public, which is probably one of the reasons why it’s so popular today.
With social media, new tools, mobile devices, and online platforms, affiliate marketing has evolved over time as technology and consumers behaviors changed.
Today affiliate marketing programs have been opened to the public for the last 27 years and it has shown signs that it is here to stay.
This multi-billion dollar global industry is expected to grow to at least $15.7 billion dollars by 2024.
It is proved to be a lucrative and effective way for both affiliate and business to generate an online income.
How Do You Start Affiliate Marketing As A Beginner?
This is an over simplied way to explain how to get started in affiliate marketing. I will explain as simply as I can.
First, you want to learn and understand the basics of affiliate marketing.
As you’ll learn in this introduction to affiliate marketing guide, this online money making opportunity isn’t for everyone. Some people love it while others totally hate it.
So, I would suggest that you learn the basics, as you are doing now. Learning the basics can help you decide if this is a career you really want to get involved in.
Most people don’t tell you how much time it will take because, honestly this is not something that can be predicted, but, I can give you a reasonable expectation.
It can take anywhere from months a year. For some it can take years, it all depends on you and your efforts.
The niche and your competition also plays apart in the amount of time it will take. It depends on your skills and your competitions skills.
There are a lot of variables which is the reason why the amount of time really can’t be narrowed down.
Some niches can see wins a lot earlier than the more competitive niche, just expect to be in affiliate marketing for the long haul.
Say you work from home or locally. When you first started working for that company, you were most likely trained unless you all ready had the skill set.
In addition to that you know that you have a set schedule, a determined hourly or salary pay rate, and expectations or rules that you must follow in order to get the job done.
You also roughly know how much you will get paid and when.
Well, with affiliate marketing, it’s the total opposite since your are the boss. You’ll need to learn how to set your own schedule.
Then you’ll decide where you want to work and when. After that you need to build the skills to pay the bills.
Therefore, you’ll need to decide if you want to teach yourself or get trained. After that you’ll need to learn what programs you will join so that you can start earning commissions.
Then you’ll need to learn how to scale those commissions.
Having said that, in between time you won’t know when to expect your first commission, and you won’t know how much it’ll be.
Therefore, if you decide affiliate sales and marketing is for you, it’s very important to understand this.
Most people start with affiliate marketing mistakes using sales and marketing as a secondary income, and then scale it from there.
The bottom line is that affiliate marketing is a fun and rewarding way to earn income but, it can take lots of learning, time, and effort to make it profitable.
Teach Yourself OR Choose An Affiliate Marketing Course
After you’ve decided you want to move forward with affiliate marketing.
You need to decide if you want to teach yourself, which, in most cases can cost little to no money. Or you’ll need to decide if you want to take a course.
In any event, you’ll need to do some research and figure out which route you want to take.
There are tons of online resources out there, including countless affiliate marketing courses. The cost can be free or go up into the thousands.
Choose A Niche
Regardless of which training method you choose, you’ll want to choose a niche.
Don’t let the word niche scare you; it tends to trip a lot of beginners up, me included.
A niche is a group of people that have the same interest in or focus on a topic that you are talking about.
For example, if you choose: A Mom Niche,” there are at least 20 million moms in America alone.
So, trying to talk to 20 million moms isn’t going to exactly work. You need to narrow that group of moms down to a more targeted audience.
Some examples for the mom niche:
Education: Virtual schooling moms, Early childhood education, homeschooling high schoolers until graduation, or college planning.
Homemakers: Stay at home mom activities, raising a large family, cooking with kids, cleaning, or home organization.
Health and Wellness: Fitness Activities for Homeschooling Kids, Mental health, nutrition and so on.
In short, a niche is a topic that you love or will grow to love. It should be something that can be talked about continuously, and you find yourself not being able to stop.
Overall, you need to really have an interest in a topic, or you’ll get bored pretty quick and give up. Above all, a niche can be an interest, hobby, passion, or something that you want to learn.
Pick Your Platform & Generate Traffic
This your key component. You need customers.
In the affiliate marketing world, they call this driving traffic, getting leads, or generating traffic. It’s all the same.
The bottom line here is you need to pick a traffic source. Your traffic source will be the way you generate traffic, or promote your business.
Simply put, its a way to get eyeballs on your product.
Without traffic, you can not make money because, as with any business, without customers to buy your product, there will be no money made.
No bueno, my friend. Some traffic sources are social media, YouTube, Blogs, email marketing, and so on.
Choose An Affiliate Program Or Affiliate Network
As an affiliate marketer, you have choices. Unlike a traditional job, you can choose and partner with as many programs, networks, and products as you like.
However, I don’t suggest going overboard.
This is a mistake that I made when I first started, so, I don’t want you to make the same mistake.
In fact, I would suggest that you learn to promote one or two products first. Learn how those products work.
Then learn how to drive quality traffic and get clicks until you have mastered that.
You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you want the sale more than your customers want it for themselves.
Therefore treat affiliate marketing like a marathon and not a sprint.
Monetize Your Affiliate Efforts
After you’ve mastered, or at least somewhat mastered, the above steps, you’ll eventually make money, whether that’s with your website, advertisements, social media marketing, or selling your own products.
Here’s a simple beginner formula:
Niche + Something to Sell + A platform to tell the people about this thing your selling + You need a target group of people, not just any group of people, you need people who are willing to listen and buy what you are selling. This can equal money. $$$$
If you understand the basics of affiliate marketing and how it works, starting is a little easier than it sounds.
Have you ever heard of a bounty hunter? Their job is to find people who have failed to appear in court or take some sort of action.
The bounty hunter then arrests that person and receives a reward for it.
The path to finding that person might not always be easy, but it becomes a fun and profitable one for that particular bounty hunter. It becomes like an addiction.
Thank goodness, with affiliate marketing, you won’t be arresting anyone.
Instead, here’s how the basics work of affiliate marketing work:
Imagine this: there are businesses online that have products to sell. Some of these businesses are your local businesses as well.
Such as Walmart, Dicks Sporting Goods, and so on.
The types of businesses looking for bounty hunters, a.k.a. affiliate marketers, like you range from real estate to grocery stores, even online dating or crypto currency.
This list can go on and on.
Typically, the business offers a bounty to anyone. In other words, any person willing to become an affiliate can start promoting the business offer to others.
Meaning that if you have the drive to you persuade others to accept what you have to offer, you’ll receive a reward for it when that customer buys.
Don’t worry; you’re not doing anything illegal. Everything you offer is a product that people need and want.
Yes, this means affiliate marketers are like bounty hunters.
The business offers a bounty, a.k.a. commission, to anyone who can persuade customers to buy their products. The product can be anything.
Adult dating, online services, private schools, colleges, books, and home based business opportunities. It’s like the list can’t be exhausted.
Some of the more advanced techniques for affiliate marketing include generating leads for legal consultations, antivirus software, roofers, water damage calls, real estate investing, and vacation homes and so on.
Affiliate Marketing Program Examples
There are tons of affiliate marketing programs. In fact, there are too many list on this page.
Most people know about Amazon and Clickbank. Or Commission Junction, ShareaSale or Awin.
So, I’ve listed some of the most uncommon affiliate marketing programs, that are rarely mentioned.
If you want to go into a travel niche, you’ll find places like:
Expedia: Expedia is a travel website where you can find flight and hotel deals.
Singapore Airlines: This is where you can plan your next getaway. You would create content that helps with travel. Singapore Airlines offers flights to major destination nations, so this is a flagship carrier.
Flight Calls for Delta, United, American or Southwest Airlines.
Flight calls is int he Travel vertical. With this affiliate marketing program this is where you would be paid per call.
You would attract leads, encourage them to call through your content, and the call center would take over.
Are you into art?
There are affiliate programs such as 3D Military Assests, or 3D Wholesale; even Adobe offers an affiliate program, plus many more.
If you go into the art niche, then there are plenty of ways to earn an income.
Not only are there affiliate programs, but there are affiliate networks.
To name a few affiliate networks, you can join places like Max Bounty, Max Web, or Golden Goose. These are all affiliate networks that allow you to promote their affiliate products.
Each platform has its own approval process, but, once you find the platform that you choose to promote on, you’ll need a product that fits your cream of the crop.
Then you can focus on becoming the best affiliate that you can be.
How Do Affiliates Get Paid?
Affiliates can get paid in a variety of ways. As with any business or career, you’ll receive a reward for your qualified efforts.
Some of the most common ways affiliates get paid are through traffic sources such as email marketing, blogs, paid traffic, and so on.
A blog is the most common method, but, of course, you don’t exactly need a website.
Nonetheless, the money that the affiliates are paid comes in the form of commissions, which is the most common form of payment.
But also, there are some affiliate marketing merchants, that pay bounties, direct deposit, checks in the mail, rewards, free items, etc.
It all boils down to the merchant (company), the affiliate marketer niche is, program, and your skill.
Even if you were even the slightest confused about how so many people can make money online from affiliate marketing, I’m glad you’re here doing your research.
Not only can affiliate marketers receive payments in different ways.
There are also different, affiliate marketing takes time, campaigns and marketing strategies that help the related affiliate marketer earn their income.
Methods Affiliate Marketers Use To Get Paid:
With affiliate marketing, you learn different skills every day. From writing to mastering SEO, to online marketing skills creating video content to social media marketing, editing, and so much more.
Therefore, these are skills that you can hone and use to help others while making a positive impact on their lives.
With that said, the most common methods that affiliate marketers use to get paid include:
Pay-Per Sale (PPS):
PPS: This is when an an affiliate earns or is paid an agreed upon amount after a sale is made. For example, if the affiliate is selling an item for $100.00.
The agreed upon amount is 50% of the sale. This means that you would get paid $50.00 each time you sold that $100.00 item. Pretty cool right?
The PPS concept is one that most beginners can understand.
It’s not until they start learning about other earning methods that a beginner gets a little confused. So, please don’t overthink this. I’m going to explain this as simply as I possibly can.
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) or CPA:
CPA: When I first started learning about affiliate marketing, this is where I got confused.
You need to understand that there are several definitions for PPC.
One is where you are paying for traffic out of your pocket; this is also called PPC. They also refer to this as CPC, or cost per click.
That’s not the method we are discussing in this article.
The other is when the merchant pays you for the qualified clicks.
PPC is better known as EPC. For the purpose of this article, I’ll refer to PPC as EPC, so that you don’t get confused.
EPC is when you, as an affiliate, are paid for clicks. Yep, that’s right! You’re paid for clicks.
Don’t overthink it; the definition is literally that simple. The EPC has a formula, but in a nutshell, it’s the result of dividing an affiliate’s earnings by traffic.
The formula looks like this: dollars over clicks.
For example: Let’s imagine that you made $100 from a product last month.
During that time, it took you 100 clicks to make that $1000.00. In order to calculate your EPC, you will use this formula. Dollars over clicks. $100/100 = $1.00.
This means that your EPC, or earning per click, is $1.00.
There you have it: EPC explained in a nutshell!
The most important thing for you to remember is the EPC formula because, if you understand the formula, you’ll understand what program will help you increase your earnings.
Remember the formula: dollars over clicks.
Now that we have the formula out of the way, you must understand the methods by which you’ll get people to click on your links.
That’s where you’ll quickly learn that it’s not exactly as simple as understanding the formula. It’s a skill that you’ll need to learn.
Please don’t get EPC confused with paying for clicks. It’s the total opposite. Instead of paying for traffic, you will earn revenue from the traffic that you generate.
Knowing the formula can help you save a lot of time and earn more money.
PPL: This is when you are paid for a qualified lead. It’s where you can earn commissions for driving traffic to your affiliate link.
You’ll get paid for opt-ins. An opt-in is when a lead takes a specific action, such as filling out a form, joining an email list, or signing up for a free trial.
For instance, let’s say that you have an audience in the online dating world and you signed up for an affiliate program that paid you by the lead.
The image below shows what you could possibly earn. Each pay per lead affiliate program pays based on their terms and conditions.
In the image below that particular program is paying around $8.00 per lead. Therefore, if you get 100 leads, you would make about $800.00
PPFO: This is when you, as an affiliate, earn money on the total number of first orders that you receive from your customers.
For example, if you promote an offer that pays you $300 per first order, you will receive $300 on the first order only.
Any other product that the customer purchases after that will not earn you additional money.
For that reason, the more first-time orders you receive, the more affiliate income you can earn.
PPC: Or Pay per call is when you become a direct advertiser with a leading brand.
Typically, you are paid higher commissions, but this all depends on the company that you join.
In addition to this, most affiliate marketers that use this model also pay for traffic.
This type of performance based marketing, isn’t really recommended for beginners.
It takes a little more understanding, skills to master, and investment with this type of affiliate marketing.
An example of pay per call is when you join a flight booking affiliate program. And get paid based on metrics that combine call duration, audio audits, routing, reporting, and so on.
our job is to drive qualified traffic, and convince people to call and book a flight. The program then determines your payout with the combination of metrics.
Two-Tier Programs (TTP)
TTP: This is when an affiliate gets paid for referring other affiliates without doing any extra work.
For example, if I invite you to the online dating program, and you earn $100 as an an amazon affiliate program, I would also get paid $10.00. Pretty cool, right?
Please do not confuse two-tier programs with network marketing, or MLMs. They are totally different.
A two-tier affiliate program can help you get paid more money by recruiting new publishers. A publisher is just an empty affiliate link.
Even if you’re a beginner, there are two-tier affiliate programs that will accept you. However, more experienced affiliate marketers typically use this method.
Above all, there are more ways that affiliates get paid, these are just to name a few.
Who Is Affiliate Marketing For?
Although I think it’s perfect for homes, especially ones that stay at home and are searching for a secondary income. However, anyone can do affiliate marketing; it’s just not for everyone.
If you ever see affiliate marketers on TikTok or Instagram that make affiliate marketing sound easy peasy, lemon squeezy.
Don’t believe the hype! They are definitely pulling your legs.
Affiliate marketing does require hard work, and it takes time to learn.
This is why everyone doesn’t do affiliate marketing. It’s not a get rich quick thing, instead, it does require work.
It’s what I call a self job. Something that you have built for yourself.
Of course, when ever you start anything new. It can be confusing, complicated, and darn right frustrating but, as you learn and earn.
Everything tends to get a lot more easier.
For that reason, I’d like to mention one more time that it’s not a get-rich-quick scheme. It’s safe to say that there’s about a 99% chance that you won’t make money overnight.
And if you do, consider yourself on the road to becoming a super affiliate, which is a very low percentage of affiliates compared to the average.
With that said, affiliate marketing is a good option for those who want to earn money online.
You’re also okay with putting in the time, effort, and hard work that it takes to start and own a profitable business.
What Do You Need To Get Started in Affiliate Marketing?
There’s a few things that you need to get started in affiliate marketing.
You need the drive, a blog, or a platform to market on. An affiliate program or affiliate network.
You’ll also want to have an audience that is interested in your product. If you have no followers, it’s okay.
There are a lot of successful affiliate marketers who started with no followers; in this case, you’ll need to build an audience from scratch.
Then, after that, you’ll need to understand how affiliate marketing works and what it takes to be successful.
For this reason, I would suggest that you at least understand the basics, which hopefully this introduction to affiliate marketing guide has helped you do.
In addition to that you may need a little capital, but, not much. Affiliate marketing is an affordable way to start an online business.
If you at least understand the basics and have the drive, then affiliate marketing can be a very rewarding way to make money online.
How Much Does It Cost to Start Affiliate Marketing?
Well, this depends on your goals and needs. It’s actually possible to get started with affiliate marketing for free. All it will cost is your time and effort.
As a matter of fact, you can sign up for Clickbank right now at no cost.
If you’re comfortable creating videos, all you have to do is grab your affiliate link from Clickbank, and start creating videos on YouTube or social media.
Both are free ways to start affiliate marketing.
On the other hand, if you do not want to start creating videos or promoting them on social media, then it will require you to start a blog, plus you’ll need a domain name.
Oh yeah, I forgot about hosting, and you may need affiliate marketing software.
At first, the only software that you might need to pay for is a keyword research tool. However, there are ways that people can find keywords for free.
The only drawback to finding keywords for free is that you won’t know the keyword difficulty or the search volume for the keyword.
Most affiliates will tell you that the cost of starting a blog is like $10.00 per month, that cost is just for the hosting.
And usually, the hosting that they recommend is BlueHost or Siteground.
For the most part, a domain name is included with most hosting packages for the first year only. After that, you will have to pay a yearly fee.
One cost that is almost never factored into the start of a blog is a keyword tool. You might need to invest in one. A keyword tool are guides. Some are better than others.
This also means, that some keyword tools cost more than others. A keyword tool by itself can range from $29.00 up to $127.87per month or more.
In any case, a keyword tool can be very helpful. It helps you target and research your competition. This helps you also see if you’re on track with your progress.
Therefore, I would say that starting a blog can cost anywhere from $49 per month up to $119 per month. This includes all tools, and it’s just a rough estimate. In most cases this also doesn’t include any affiliate marketing courses.
What Are The Three Main Types Of Affiliate Marketing?
In short, the three main types of affiliate marketing are :
- Unattached affiliate marketing
- Related affiliate marketing
- Involved affiliate marketing
I’ve done all three and each has its pros and cons.
‘If you’d like more information on each of these methods, please visit my post that I recently wrote about the 3 types of affiliate marketing. There, you will learn more on how these methods work.
Can I Teach Myself Affiliate Marketing?
Yes, you can teach yourself affiliate marketing. Before affiliate marketing was even a thing, that’s how people got started self taught.
Affiliate marketing doesn’t require a course. There are many online resources that are available to you for little to no money.
In fact, you can visit your affiliate marketing partners and marketers YouTube channels, blogs, forums, online communities, or purchase affiliate marketing books. These are all good ways to teach yourself affiliate and online marketing tips and strategies.
You’ll want to do as you are doing now: start by learning the basics of affiliate marketing. Then decide on a niche and do some research on the products that you want to promote.
Furthermore, you’ll want to make sure you understand the products that you are promoting so that you can create high-quality content.
This will help you attract an engaging audience and build trust with them.
Above all, you’ll want to use effective marketing strategies like search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, or growing an email list.
Don’t forget to track your results; this can help you improve your earnings.
What’s The Catch To Affiliate Marketing?
Here’s the catch! Most people overhype affiliate marketing.
They tell you it’s easy, then they go on to say you can make money almost instantly. In fact, they say it’s like ATM machine with money on autopilot. “Why aren’t most people doing it then?
Most people aren’t doing affiliate marketing because, for one many people still don’t know what affiliate marketing is, they’ve never even heard of it yet.
The reason why I think they haven’t heard of it yet, is that, for one, they either haven’t come across the opportunity, or aren’t searching for ways to be their own boss.
It’s a nontraditional business income earning opportunity. They just can’t wrap their head around it.
There are some who believe affiliate marketing is some kind of MLM.
Then there’s a large group of people who don’t even realize that there are a lot of online shoppers. Therefore, beginners usually don’t understand how they will get paid.
So, they start to experience analysis of paralysis, and they won’t keep moving forward.
With affiliate marketing, you can learn a lot by watching videos and reading blog posts.
However, most of what you’ll learn is through trial and error. You must start affiliate marketing first and get your hands dirty. Test, adjust, and repeat.
Here’s the truth: Yes, you can make a lot of money.
And yes, it can feel kind of like its on auto polite, but not like your thinking. It still all boils down to you having to put in some work.
Let’s take a building a website for example.
This is what I know best building websites. With a website, you can create a post today, and that post may not make you any income until six months or a year later.
Alternatively, that same post may never get traffic, making zilch. No money at all. It’s a part of the learning game. When your learning, you won’t win on every post.
However, if your post is done right, with high quality content, and you’ve set up your affiliate links or ads correctly, and the post has ranked on page 1 of search engines.
That post has the potential to generate income day after day, year after year, while you sleep without you having to do any more work to it, as long as the post remains in the same condition with traffic, and rankings. This is what they call on auto polite.
However, to get to that affiliate income producing stage it takes time, learning, and lots of work.
The bottom line is most people think that affiliate marketing is a breeze, but, its not. It does require hard work and learning.
It’s definitely not a way to get paid immediately, its a income that you have to build.
This why most affiliate marketers build affiliate websites, because, they have more control over how to build their affiliate income.
What Is Better Than Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is a great way to earn an income online; however, it’s not for everyone. And thank goodness it’s not the only way.
If you’re searching for affiliate marketing alternatives, some of the best alternatives that come to mind include:
E-commerce, freelancing, social media marketing, creating video content, some people enjoy network marketing or blogging.
You can also teach online courses, especially if you’re an expert in a particular subject.
If you create courses, you can sell your own online courses and earn income by sharing your knowledge with others.
Hopefully, you learned something new. I also hope I’ve added some value to your beginner affiliate life. Overall, affiliate marketing is a pretty cool way to earn passive income.
In fact, I believe it’s one of the best ways to generate an income, especially if you want to work for yourself and spend quality time with the people that you love the most.
It does take a lot of learning, but, then again, what doesn’t? The only way you’ll truly know if affiliate marketing is for you or not, is to give it a try.
As I mentioned in this article, there are free ways to get started.
If you’re willing to put in the time and effort, affiliate marketing can be a rewarding new career.
Of course, I would start off by doing this as a secondary income option. After you have learned the ropes and can replace your current income.
That’s when you can decide if you want to become your own boss permanently. Ultimately, the decision to pursue affiliate marketing is yours.