What is Affiliate Marketing and How Does it Work for Beginners

While placing ads on your website and YouTube channel can make you some money, Affiliate marketing can take your income to another level. The beauty of affiliate marketing is that it works on all platforms. For example, Instagram at the moment of writing this article is not monetizing the content of creators but still creators are earning thousands of dollars with affiliate marketing on Instagram.

Affiliate marketing is a way to earn passive income without having to worry about customer support and after sales support.

Affiliate marketing income has changed my life for sure. Currently I am earning $10,000 from affiliate marketing. I only promote quality products that I have tested myself first.

In this article, I shall cover the following:

  • What is Affiliate marketing for beginners
  • How to get paid with Affiliate marketing
  • What you can do to also start earning affiliate income
  • Various affiliate networks and how to use them

Since I will be covering a lot of things related to affiliate marketing so this article is going to longer in length. You can keep the URL of this page somewhere in your notepad or bookmark it for coming back to it for reference.

Alright, let’s get started.

What is Affiliate marketing for beginners

Before the onset of internet as we know it, affiliate marketing was done offline too. You must have heard of schemes for making members under you. This resulted in whole hierarchy of members where everyone in the chain will get some commissions for making members.

When digital marketing became mainstream, all companies and product vendors felt the need to get more sales. So they would give commissions to influencers and blogs to recommend their product to the audience. Instead of making a chain of members, you directly promote the product to a consumer and get paid a commission for referring.

The final commission that you get paid depends greatly on the price of product and margin of the manufacturer. So it is the profit that is being paid to you as commission. Some companies would pay 5% commission and others would pay 60%.

If I have tell you the meaning of affiliate marketing in a bullet point list then I would use the following:

  1. You write your content on your blog or make videos top help people with their problems.
  2. You find a product to promote to the audience which is related to the topic you are teaching or discussing. This product is helpful to the audience in some way.
  3. The company provides you a purchase link with a unique id attached to the URL.
  4. Since people want a solution for their problems, they use the affiliate link and you get paid when they do make purchase.

Now a days, all kind of companies have an affiliate program starting from a needle to a software.

All you have to do is search for company’s affiliate program in Google and register for it. Once your account is created and verified, an affiliate link is shared with you. This is also known as Refer & Earn link or tracking link . Whenever you mention the product in your website, instead of giving a normal link, you give the special affiliate link. The person already had to purchase the product so if you made a suggestion and offered you tracking link, it makes some money for you. Sometimes companies offer special discount for people registering via an affiliate.

How to get paid with Affiliate marketing

In order to get paid from affiliate links, you need to assure users that it is ok to purchase the product. You can recommend this product in a number of ways as listed below:

  • Start a website and write tutorials for various things ranging from travel to parenting.
  • Run ads on Facebook or Google for a landing page which further has the affiliate link button
  • Use YouTube to make helpful videos or connect with target audience using vlogs and promote products
  • Use email marketing or Facebook messenger marketing to send product recommendations
get paid with Affiliate marketing

Here are steps to get started with affiliate marketing via your blog:

  1. You can start your blog for free using blogspot.
  2. Choose a niche which has search volume and has some products associated to it.
  3. Find some companies which offer products in that niche and signup for their affiliate program.
  4. Write helpful content and keep referring to products in the content.
  5. With proper SEO, you will get free traffic from search engines.
  6. Apart from recommending products in the content, get people on to the email list and recommend products in the emails.
  7. Repeat the above steps with different verticals in your niche.

While creating video is time consuming and requires you to be on screen, writing content is more easier and passive for most people. So you can start with writing articles on your blog and later start YouTube channel too. As more time passes, you will get expert at your work and could get free from 9 to 5 job.

What You Need to Know About Affiliate Marketing Terms

As marketing as whole and affiliate marketing has matured with time, there are some industry specific terms which you will come across quite frequently. Its good to get familiar with them here:

  • Affiliate: There are the people who promote products. When you signup for a company to promote their product, you become an affiliate for that company.
  • Affiliate marketplace: While large companies can afford to run a private affiliate program by allocating employees specific to affiliate program, small sized product owners go to marketplaces to list their products. The most common marketplaces where you should also signup are Shareasale, CJ and Clickbank. There you will find products to promote on virtually any niche.
  • Affiliate link or Tracking link: When you send traffic to an affiliate offer or product, the owner of that service or product needs to know that you are sending these people over to him. This is done by adding an ID in the normal purchase URL which is unique to you as an affiliate. This URL with your affiliate ID in it is known as affiliate link.
  • Affiliate ID: As discussed in above point, there is an unique ID given to you for tracking the traffic sent by you. This specific ID is known as affiliate ID.
  • Payment method: All affiliate programs have setup a way to pay their affiliates and they use various types of payment gateways to send the payment to their affiliates. The popular ones are PayPal, Wire Transfer, Cheque and special Vouchers.
  • Affiliate Manager: Companies like OGads and MaxBounty will assign an affiliate manager to you. If you face any difficulty in creating affiliate links or any payment issues, you can reach these affiliate managers on email/Skype and phone.
  • Commission percentage/$ per sale: Every affiliate offer gives you a specific amount per sale. If you use Clickbank , there you can see against each product what is the $ per sale for it.
  • Landing Page: Each affiliate link will take the user to a web page where more details about the product are shared. It is very common to see lengthy landing pages filled with text, images, videos and testimonials.
  • Link Clocking: Due to the addition of affiliate ID in the affiliate link, the link itself becomes lengthy and shows the user that this is an affiliate link because your ID can be seen in the URL. To solve this, there are many plugins in WordPress which make the link look good The hands down best plugin for clocking affiliate links is Thirsty Affiliates plugin.
  • Coupon Code: Affiliate programs hand over special coupon to their affiliates so that the audience feels connected to the affiliate and coupons also reduce friction in getting sales. From companies point of view, they are able to offer coupons on top of their price and affiliate commission is because they save on advertisements. Thus that amount is shared with users via coupon code and with affiliate via commission.
  • Cookie Window: For companies, a person can either make a purchase via affiliate or direct (SEO, Word of Mouth etc). So for affiliates, they would give a cookie window which means they specify a time interval within which if your audience converts then you get commission and if cookie window has passed and then your audience converts then you are not given any commission. The longer the cookie window, the better it is for you. Amazon has 24 hour cookie window and has so many products available for affiliation.
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Frequently Asked Questions for Affiliate Marketing

The purpose of this article is to give you as much information about affiliate marketing. So here I am addressing the most common questions that are asked related to Affiliate Marketing.

When starting affiliate marketing, how much money can be earned?

If you had asked the same question with regard to an expert at affiliate marketing then my answer would have been “Unlimited”.

Some of the affiliate programs pay a whole lot of money to their affiliates. So it all depends on the kind of product that you are promoting. For beginners, I would say that don’t expect $100-200 in first 6 months because Google will take its own time in ranking your content on search or YouTube. If you are running ads as beginner to affiliate landing pages then I would not advice that because you first need to learn what is good landing page and what is not.

The most effective way for beginners to start with affiliate marketing is to create content and recommend products in the content.

Running a blog website is the only way to earn affiliate income?

A blog is not required. You need to provide value to the audience for them to trust you. Once trust is established, you can then recommend products to them. This trust can be established on website, YouTube, Social Media and good looking PPC ads with great ad copy.

If you ask for recommendation from me then I would say go with a blog to start with as it has more chances of getting you success.

When I try to join an affiliate program, I am being asked to pay. Is that OK?

Probably you have landed on a fraud affiliate program. All the top notch affiliate programs are free to join. The affiliate programs may have their own set of requirements but they never ask for money to join them. These requirements could be they want to know how would you drive traffic to the affiliate offer and what is your past experience with affiliate marketing.

I want to be a great affiliate marketer like you. Do I need to get official course on affiliate marketing?

You will learn the most from your experience in trying out different things than taking courses and doing little work. I would not recommend to get a course for learning affiliate marketing. I also learnt everything from own experiences. Good English skills and selling skills do help a lot.

Is it wrong or illegal in any way to make money with affiliate marketing?

To answer this question, let us go back to the definition of affiliate marketing. What you are essential doing is giving a special link for people to buy products instead of non-affiliate link. You need to provide a FTC disclaimer on your website or YouTube channel that the links are affiliate link and that is it.

FTC disclosure Affiliate marketing

From SEO point of view also, adding affiliate links in your website doesn’t diminish the SEO power of your website.

I want to join an affiliate program for specific type of product, how can I search for affiliate programs?

When you are new to affiliate marketing, finding what companies have affiliate program is difficult. The solution to this problem is to search on Google and also take a look at your competitors in your niche.

If you know a product in you niche, visit their company website. Usually if they have affiliate program, the sign up for it is linked in the footer section of that company’s website.

When searching on Google, you enter a query like: “<product niche> affiliate program”. If company website doesn’t come in search results then also you will see some articles which list out “x number of affiliate products that you can promote in y niche”.

You should search for your niche on affiliate product marketplaces like Max Bounty, Shareasale, Clickbank and Commission Junction.

There is a product specifically made for searching affiliate programs named Affilitizer.

I also get success by contacting customer support of these companies and ask for any special coupon code that they can give for my traffic.

Is adding affiliate links along with Adsense ads allowed by Google?

Hundreds of thousands of websites use affiliate marketing along with display ads. Not only Adsense, but other premium ad networks like Ezoic, Media.net, AdThrive are also ok with you having affiliate links in your content.

The only thing you should be aware is that suppose you write a review about specific product and your user has been searching about the product online then he may be served a display ad with better discount offer than the one offered in your affiliate link.

So in above case, user can click on ad than your affiliate link. The income from Adsense ad click is way less than income from a sale sent via affiliate link. So always give more priority to affiliate marketing than ads. If you have huge traffic then ads can give you great boost in your income.

What action can you take today to get started with Affiliate marketing?

If there is an advice that I can give today for you to get started with affiliate marketing is that first create content and once you start to get traffic, go back to your old content and add affiliate links. This is crucial because you don’t want to insert affiliate links in every article. You can better spend time adding affiliate links in pages which get most traffic.

I have provided full information on affiliate marketing in this article. Do make good use of it and get started with making money with affiliate marketing today.