How does affiliate marketing work

How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?

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Have you ever wondered how does affiliate marketing work? In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the ins and outs of affiliate marketing, with a special focus on beginners who are keen to embark on their journey in the world of online entrepreneurship.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a performance-based marketing strategy where individuals, known as affiliates, earn a commission by promoting someone else’s products or services. The concept is simple yet powerful: affiliates generate sales through their unique affiliate links, for which they receive a percentage of the revenue.

How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?

Affiliate marketing operates on a win-win principle. As an affiliate, you collaborate with a company or product seller to promote their offerings to your audience.

Whenever your audience makes a purchase using your affiliate link, you earn a commission. The key lies in effectively leveraging your online presence and influence to drive traffic and encourage conversions.

Let’s take Sarah, a budding lifestyle blogger, as an example. Sarah joins an affiliate program for a beauty brand and writes an authentic and glowing review of their skincare products, incorporating her unique affiliate link.

When her readers click on the link and proceed to make a purchase, Sarah earns a commission. This seamless process allows her to monetize her content effortlessly, without the need for product creation or customer service.

Why Should You Consider Affiliate Marketing?

Three compelling reasons why you should consider affiliate marketing:

  1. Cost-free Startup: Certain platforms offer a no-cost entry into the realm of affiliate marketing. This means you can kickstart your journey without any financial burden.
  2. Low-Cost and Low-Risk: Starting a conventional business often involves substantial upfront costs, such as product inventory, staffing, equipment, and rent. In contrast, affiliate marketing only requires a website. If things don’t work out, you’ve only invested minimal time and money.
  3. Easy Scalability: Unlike traditional sales positions where individuals promote products from a single company, affiliate marketers can promote products from multiple companies simultaneously. By diversifying your sources of income, you have the potential to earn commissions from various sources, maximizing your earning potential.

How much do affiliate marketers earn?

Affiliate revenue can vary significantly and may fluctuate from year to year. Additionally, it takes time for an affiliate marketer to build a substantial online presence and start generating a consistent profit. Here are the average salaries in the United States, as of August 2023, according to various career sites:

  1. ZipRecruiter: $72,969
  2. Payscale: $55,829
  3. Glassdoor: $49,847

Getting Started with Affiliate Marketing: Five Simple Steps:

Step 1: Choose Your Niche

Your niche refers to the specific category or topic you want to focus on and promote. To stand out amidst the sea of websites, it’s advisable to opt for a narrower niche rather than a broad one.

For instance, instead of tackling a general category like food, consider a more specific subcategory like grilling. This targeted approach will help you build a more engaged audience and can positively impact your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts.

To identify a suitable niche, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What am I skilled at?
  • What do I genuinely enjoy doing?
  • What sparks my curiosity?
  • What do others praise me for?

Always choose a niche that aligns with your passion. Success in affiliate marketing heavily relies on continuously creating valuable content. If you choose a niche you dislike, it will be challenging to stay motivated during rough patches.

Step 2: Decide on a Content Platform

Affiliate marketing can be pursued on various platforms, including:

  • Social media (Youtube, Instagram, TikTok)
  • Newsletters
  • Blogs

Your choice of platform will depend on your personal preference and, at times, the preferences of your target audience. For instance, if your niche involves dance tutorials, creating YouTube videos may be more appealing to your audience than written blog posts.

However, building a website and leveraging search engine optimization (SEO) to rank your content higher on search engines like Google is highly recommended. This approach allows you to generate consistent and passive search traffic, resulting in a steady flow of clicks on your affiliate links.

Remember, regardless of the platform you choose, it is crucial to adhere to the Federal Trade Commission’s regulations regarding transparent disclosure of affiliate links.

Step 3: Finding Affiliate Programs to Join:

When venturing into the realm of affiliate marketing, selecting the right program is crucial. There are three main types of affiliate programs to consider:

  1. High-paying, Low-volume programs: These programs offer substantial commissions but cater to niche markets with relatively lesser customer demand.
  2. Low-paying, High-volume programs: These programs focus on high-demand products or services, though the commission rates may be comparatively lower.
  3. High-paying, High-volume programs: These programs present an ideal balance, offering high commissions and catering to a wide customer base.

Step 4: Creating Compelling Content:

A thriving affiliate site relies on high-quality content that effortlessly integrates affiliate links. To engage your readers effectively, it is important to provide solutions to their problems rather than simply curating products. Invest in testing and reviewing products to provide authentic insights that drive value for your audience.

Step 5: Driving Traffic to Your Affiliate Site:

Creating exceptional content is only the beginning; directing traffic to your website is equally vital. Here are three strategies to consider:


Optimize your website’s pages using targeted keywords to rank high in search engine results pages, particularly on Google. This ensures a consistent and passive flow of organic traffic.

Paid Traffic:

Investing in pay-per-click (PPC) advertising can generate instant traffic to your site. While it may entail initial expenses, optimizing your paid traffic campaigns realistically can lead to significant returns.

Building an Email List:

Utilizing email lists allows for consistent engagement with your audience. This not only increases the chances of more affiliate clicks and sales but also fosters lasting relationships.

Recommended Affiliate Networks and Marketplaces for Beginners:

If you are seeking products or brands to collaborate with, consider the following affiliate networks and marketplaces:

  • Affiliate Future
  • AvantLink
  • CJ
  • ClickBank
  • FlexOffers
  • LinkConnector
  • ShareASale
  • Digistore24
  • Awin
  • Amazon Associates
  • Rakuten
  • Etsy Affiliates
  • Impact

Additionally, explore the websites of the products and services you currently use to see if they offer an affiliate program.

How to Succeed in Affiliate Marketing:

To thrive in the dynamic field of affiliate marketing, it takes more than just dedicating time and effort. Acquiring a diverse skill set that includes market research, competitive analysis, exceptional writing, and effective presentation skills is crucial. Continuously refining and enhancing these skills will pave the way for lasting success in this ever-evolving industry.

How Do I Make Money from Affiliate Marketing?

To make money from affiliate marketing you need to decide what product you are going to promote and then simply share the links on whatever platform you choose, get conversions, and earn as simple as that.

Once you are accepted in the affiliate marketing company, they will provide the link to each link the affiliate marketing product, that link is tracked so that when any reader on your blog makes a purchase, you earn a commission.

The amount of commission that you earn per sale will vary for each affiliate program.

What Products Should I Promote?

There is no limit to the number of products you can promote as an affiliate however, I don’t recommend that you approach all of them especially at the same time.

This will allow you to make adjustments here and there, try new products here and there until you get the ideal product that connects and converts well with your readers.

How Does Affiliate Marketing Work

One thing that is crucial though is that you stick to affiliate products and services that serve wells in your niche.

Let’s say, for example, you have a personal development blog, you could promote courses and books that help to improve lives or audiobooks about motivation and affirmations. If you’re a beauty blogger, you can promote makeup, jewelry. If you’re into health and fitness, you can promote products to help improve diet, etc. 

It doesn’t make sense you have a blog about A but promote products for B, C and D.

Building trust with your audience is very important so only promote products that you’ve used yourself or products that are based on thorough research that are proven to be credible.

If however you don’t have a niche you want to go in, just pick something you have an interest in, if it is something that isn’t going in the direction you would like, then you can change it. However, don’t be caught up in the idea that you’re going to a perfect divine idea. That isn’t going to happen.

Where Do I Get My Affiliate Links?

Each affiliate marketing program is different but typically you will have access to a page where you will copy your special link and paste it either onto your blog.

Please read their rules carefully because some affiliate networks don’t recommend their affiliate to be promoted directly on social media.

How to present your affiliate links?

In terms of how you present your affiliate links, that may vary according to the affiliate program that you are a part of. Sometimes the link or tracking code that you get to promote your link is long and noticeably long or filled with codes and characters that just seem friendly to the eye.

What you can do is hide the affiliate link with a free plugin like Pretty Link ( This is an amazing plugin that allows you to hide any link at all.

One of the cool things about Pretty Link is that it automatically adds rel=”nofollow” when you add it.

How do affiliate networks track your link?

When a visitor comes to your blog and clicks on your affiliate links, the affiliate network gets a record of that so they can keep tracking your clicks sales, and commission.

Along with the special link that the affiliate network gives you, they also use cookies as a way of tracking your activities. So let’s say a reader clicks on your affiliate link, cookies are placed on their computer, and make a record of the user’s behaviour.

When a sale is made, your account gets credit for that sale once it’s in the cookie lifespan ( it ranges from 24 hours, 7 days 30 -90 days) some even go up to 6 months, etc.

On a Final Note: How Does Affiliate Marketing Work

Understanding how does affiliate marketing works lays the foundation for a sustainable online income stream. By making informed choices, creating quality content, and staying attuned to industry shifts, your journey in affiliate marketing is poised for triumph and fulfillment. So, let the journey unfold, and may your affiliate marketing narrative be one of enduring success!

It’s time to start implementing.

Which way do you think is the easiest to promote affiliate links?

In this how does affiliate marketing work, what stands out the most to you?


Zip Recruiter: Accessed Nov. 2, 2023.

Payscale: Accessed Nov. 2, 2023.

Glassdoor:,2_IN1_KO3,21.htm?clickSource=searchBtn. Accessed Nov. 2, 2023.

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