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Introduction to Affiliate Marketing

Introduction to Affiliate Marketing

We have already covered a lot of applications for making money with affiliate marketing on the site however today we are going to be giving an introduction to what affiliate marketing actually is and the potentials with affiliate marketing for those that are perhaps a little confused about the subject.


What is it all about?

Whether you’re aware of it or not, affiliate marketing is everywhere online. There are affiliate programs for practically everything you can think of from selling bouquets of flowers through to package holidays. It’s a big business.

In a nutshell, affiliate marketing is advertising a product or service using your own unique link embedded with a code. When a customer clicks your link and goes through to a sales page and buys, you earn a percentage of that sale because you referred that sale.

Very often links in articles and on social media pages that go through to buy something are disguised affiliate links that are shortened down so as not to look obvious that they are selling something.


What are the potentials with affiliate marketing?

Percentages earned per affiliate sale vary widely from a typical 3% up to as large as 50%. Very often commission is tiered and the more you sell, the more of a percentage you earn. Amazon uses this tier system for example which starts at 4% and goes up to 9% although some types of products do come under different commission rates.

What’s so good about making money as an affiliate is it’s a “passive income”. This means you continue earning from an article you wrote long ago because your affiliate link is still out there. You can be earning money whilst you sleep.

There are disadvantages to being an affiliate too. It’s not as easy as adding your unique link to a few articles, sitting back and waiting for the money to roll in.

You have to keep on putting the effort in to reap the most rewards. Articles must be good quality and for your potential customers to trust you and click your link. You also need plenty of regular visitors in order to make the sales.  It is also important that the people you are marketing to are actually interested in the products you are promoting and that they actually have the money/will to purchase that product/service.

It’s very important for your readers to trust you and what you are writing. For example if you write a product review about something you want to gain an affiliate sale from, if it’s an obvious sales pitch complete with “click to buy!” all over the article, it will be obvious that you are an affiliate and they may not trust your review or click your link.

As commission percentages earned can often be very small, to make a lot of money you either have to sell expensive items to get a big enough commission, or make a lot of sales to make up for the percentage of the sale being small.

There is also a great deal of online competition these days too because it’s such a popular way of earning money. If you sell a product in a niche that’s not already heavily competed against or you be a bit different to everyone else and have a great way of selling, it’s still possible to make a lot of money as an affiliate.

There are people who make a full-time living from purely doing affiliate marketing which demonstrates the potential if you get very good and experienced at it.


What do you need to get started?

To earn money as an affiliate online there are a number of ways to get started.

Using your own website is the most popular way, it could be a “mini-site” although there is debate as to the success now days of these as in the past online marketers would blast 1000’s backlinks and make use of exact domains as a way of achieving high rankings, yes it can be done now however with more of a focus on social media, after all a mini-site is a site that only uses a few pages and Google really likes to reward sites that put out lots and lots of fresh content.

You could write product reviews, add banners and send out newsletters to your readers.  You could weigh a heavy focus on a new related product that is coming up to release and really get people excited about it so they pre-order through your affiliate link.

One of the main features of affiliate network sites Is that they provide a platform for the “merchants” to update affiliates with regular sales/coupons they are offering.  Sometimes these are coupled with higher levels of commission to entice the affiliate to generate more sales.  Everyone loves a saving right?

One method of using affiliate marketing that seriously goes unnoticed is

You don’t necessarily have to have a website though to do affiliate marketing. You can still use your affiliate link on social media pages like Facebook and Twitter, or on forums and in blog comments (being careful not to be appear a ‘spammer’).

There are also free places to create web pages and add articles such as Squidoo where you can add your affiliate link to your “lens”.
Getting started being an affiliate is really easy. Firstly you need to decide on what it is you’re going to promote. Ideally it needs to be something you have an interest in and are knowledgeable about but that’s not essential, what is essential is that there are people willing to buy it.

Once you’ve decided on your product you can either contact companies directly asking if they have an affiliate program you can join, or join affiliate program websites such as Commission Junction, Amazon associates and Affiliate window.

Once logged into these websites you will see a large number of “merchants”/retailers/product sellers, those online shops offering you commission to sell their products.

When you’ve selected your product and signed up to an affiliate program you will then be able to create your unique affiliate link which identifies when a sale is made through your specific link.  For example:


This link is embedded with a code specific to you so that any commission from a sale logs to your account. When the sale has been validated by the merchant and after a short period of time, the money from the sale then goes into your own account.

In summary, affiliate marketing is growing rapidly online and has been for some time. There are more and more people doing it but with lots of dedication, patience, and quality articles it’s very possible to make regular sales and earn a good income from it.


Top ways to make money through affiliate marketing

Social media fanpage

Trend/seasonal blog/forum

Review site

YouTube reviews – No approval process for merchants (affiliate relationships held between and the merchants)



  • By holding an affiliate relationship means you can ask for special extras such as sponsorships/custom voucher codes to promote.
  • Look out for special commission rates (often around Christmas and new product launches)
  • Look out for voucher codes
  • Don’t spam your affiliate links – Provide value
  • Make use of affiliate plugins for WordPress etc.. that help you to make your life easier in automatically linking through “buzzwords”. (A quick Google search will show some good plugins)


Written by OIiver

Oliver is a 20 year old web-enthusiast and entrepreneur from the UK. He enjoys Marketing, SEO, Technology and Business.