affiliate marketing
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This comprehensive manual will show you how to launch an affiliate marketing business and will provide you with internet marketing advice and strategies to help you increase your income.

Smart business owners who have a booming operations are aware that there is always room for improvement. Finding a different source of income is one technique to advance the situation.

What is affiliate marketing?

By advertising a good or service made by another vendor or advertiser, publishers can make money through affiliate marketing. For delivering a certain outcome to the store or advertiser, the affiliate partner received payment.

Usually, a sale is an outcome. However, some programs will pay you for leads, website clicks from trial users, or app downloads.

You don't need to worry about expensive setup charges because affiliate networks are typically free to join. If done right, this performance-based opportunity can help you build a successful online business by bringing in a respectable amount of money.

How affiliate marketing works

By promoting a good or service on a blog, social networking site, podcast, or website, you are engaging in affiliate marketing. Every time a customer purchases via the special link connected to their referral, the affiliate receives a commission.

How affiliate marketing works

To review:

  • On your website, blog, or social network, you display an ad or a link for Store Z.
  • A client clicks your special link.
  • The client purchases from Store Z.
  • The transaction is noted by the affiliate network.
  • Store Z attests to the purchase.
  • You receive a financial commission.

The firm and the offer all influence the commission rates. On the low end, you'll make around 5% of the sale, but in certain circumstances, you could make as much as 50%, usually when promoting a course or event. In addition to affiliate marketing schemes that offer a flat fee per sale rather than a percentage, there are several as well.

Types of affiliate marketing

Affiliates are always a little mysterious since you can never tell if they have ever actually utilized the product they are pushing or are simply doing it for the money. Both situations are still active.

Pat Flynn, a well-known affiliate marketer, didn't divide the various affiliate marketing types into three categories until 2009. Regardless of your moral compass, understanding these forms of affiliate marketing can teach you the various methods people make money online in this industry.


When you lack authority in the market for the product you're promoting, you engage in the first sort of affiliate marketing, which is known as “unattached.” You and the customer are not connected in any way. You frequently launch pay-per-click advertising campaigns with your affiliate link in the hopes that customers will click it, purchase the item, and you will be paid a commission.

Because you don't have to put any effort into it, unaffiliated affiliate marketing is appealing. Businesses that use affiliate marketing rely on their online target audience's reputation and trust. This kind of marketing is the greatest choice for individuals who lack the time or desire to cultivate those relationships.

Elise Dopson, the creator of Sprocker Lovers, says that unaffiliated affiliate marketing isn't a real business strategy; rather, it's for those who simply want to make money. Our priority at Sprocker Lovers is community development and free education in a certain niche, in this case, the sprocket spaniel dog breed, followed by sales.


Affiliate marketing that is connected to your niche involves promoting goods and services that you do not utilize. In this instance, affiliates have a following, whether it be on a blog, YouTube, TikTok, or another platform. Even if they have never utilized the products, their influence makes them a reliable source for product recommendations.

Do you wish to advertise something you've never tried before? That is the issue with linked affiliate marketing. You might not even be aware that it's the worst good or service ever. One poor recommendation is all it takes for your audience to stop believing in you. It will be challenging to develop a long-lasting affiliate marketing business without transparency and trust.


Only suggesting goods and services you've used and firmly believe in is referred to as involved affiliate marketing. Elise asserts that “involved affiliate marketing is the way to go.” The finest thing for your audience and business is that it is based on trust and sincerity.

Instead of spending money to generate clicks on banner ads, this sort of marketing makes use of your influence to promote goods and services that your followers could find useful. Building this kind of audience credibility takes more effort, but it's essential for creating a long-lasting company.

Advertising has also become considerably simpler, according to Elise. “You don't need to wait for clicks and sales while hiding behind pricey PPC ads. A genuine blog article or Instagram Story about your use of a product would help a lot. Because it is straightforward and the “one authentic way to become a trustworthy source on any topic,” Elise favors this approach.

Involved affiliate marketing is the only genuine way to become a trusted source on any topic.

Elise Dopson, founder of Sprocker Lovers

Pros and cons of affiliate marketing


Given its popularity increase, affiliate marketing is without a doubt worthwhile. By 2022, Statista predicts that the affiliate marketing sector will have a value of $8.2 billion, up from $5.4 billion in 2017. Additionally, you may make a tonne of money from it with little to no investment.

Entrepreneurs use referral marketing for some reasons, while sector expansion is a reliable sign of success.

Easy to execute

Simply managing the digital marketing component of creating and selling a product is your side of the equation. The more difficult responsibilities, such as creating, sustaining, or accepting the offer, are not your concern.

Low risk

You can start earning money with an established affiliate product or service without making any initial investments because joining affiliate networks is free. The ideal situation for producing money is one in which affiliate marketing produces relatively passive revenue through commission. Although you may initially need to devote time to developing traffic sources, your affiliate links can nevertheless generate a consistent income.

Easy to scale

Without hiring more staff, effective affiliate marketing offers the potential to considerably increase your income. While your present work continues to create income in the background, you can introduce new products to your target market and develop campaigns for other products.

Be aware that effective affiliate marketing is founded on trust before you get overly enthused. Even though there seem to be an infinite amount of goods or services to advertise, it's ideal to simply draw attention to ones you have used or would suggest. Even if a product appeals to you or fits into an existing passion, marketing it well still requires a lot of effort.


Compared to other platforms, affiliate marketing also has a few drawbacks. Let's first take a closer look at some of the obstacles you'll encounter on the road to success.

Requires patience

A quick-money scam is not what affiliate marketing is. Gaining influence and expanding your audience takes time and patience.

To determine which channel best engages your audience, test out a few options. Find the most relevant and reliable products to market by doing research. Additionally, devote time to writing, sharing unpaid material on social media, running online conferences, and engaging in other lead-generating activities.


As an affiliate marketer, you don't have an employer giving you a paycheck every week. Whether you are compensated for leads, clicks, or sales, affiliate networks operate on a commission basis.

Businesses track users' actions after they view your material using a transient browser cookie. You get paid off when someone takes the specified action.

No control over program

Affiliates must adhere to the guidelines established by a business for their program. You must abide by their instructions regarding what you say and how you present their good or service. Since competitors must abide by the same guidelines, you must be original to stand out from the pack.

How do affiliate marketers make money?

The range of affiliate marketing earnings is broad. Some marketers make a few hundred dollars a month, while others bring in six figures annually. You can earn more money the more people you have following you.

Based on over 7,000 pay profiles, compensation software provider Payscale claims that the average yearly wage for an affiliate marketer is $52,130, with the highest tier earning $72,000.

Other marketers include the blogger Ryan Robinson, who earns more than $17,000 a month solely from affiliate commissions. Ryan's blog income for March 2021 is depicted in the figure below:

affiliate earnings

However, how are affiliates paid? There are various payment schemes available when you choose an affiliate program to promote. The terms “pricing model,” “payout model,” “conversion type,” and other variations are also used by businesses.

Regardless of the name, the payment model outlines the objectives for which you will be compensated. Signing up for a free trial could be the action if you're pushing software. The objective for marketers that promote tangible goods is probably going to be a buy.

Many programs use last-click attribution, which gives full credit to the affiliate who makes the final click before a sale. But as programs enhance attribution models and reporting, this is altering. If there were several affiliates in a customer's conversion funnel, for instance, you might be able to split the credit for a transaction equally.

5 common ways affiliates get paid include:

Pay per sale: where each sale you make results in a commission. For e-commerce offerings, it's a typical compensation arrangement.

Pay per action: which compensates you for a certain action with a commission. This payout model is popular among affiliate programs since it covers a wide range of offers, including newsletter registration, clicks, contact requests, form submissions, etc.

Pay per install: where you get compensated for each install made possible by the visitors to your website. Your material should promote mobile applications and software to encourage users to download or install them.

Pay per lead: compensates you each time a user registers. Because businesses utilize it for sweepstakes, lead generation, and other offerings, it is a well-liked payout mechanism. Because it's simpler to produce leads than it is to sell things to an audience, cost-per-lead deals are popular among newcomers.

Pay per click: a unique compensation method that pays you a commission for each affiliate link click. Large retailers utilize pay-per-click campaigns to increase brand recognition. Customers can just view the merchant's website without having to register or make a purchase.

Your affiliate specialty determines how much money you can make. For instance, according to our research*, business-related programs had the highest average commission rate ($70.99). While slightly over $6 per commission was collected by the clothes, media, and book categories. The highest average commission we could find per sale was about $289.06.

affiliate marketing research
Source: Shopify

4 steps to starting affiliate marketing

Here is how to start affiliate marketing:

  • Pick your platform and method
  • Decide your niche and audience
  • Find your products
  • Choose your first affiliate program

It requires commitment and discipline to succeed as an affiliate, much like running your own small business. Start your affiliate marketing company by using the step-by-step instructions below.

Pick your platform and method

Choosing the platform on which you wish to base your audience development is the first step. Each affiliate marketer employs a unique strategy and platform. You can pick from a variety of affiliate marketing strategies, including:

Niche topic and review sites. These are websites that offer product reviews targeted at a particular demographic or that assess a product line in comparison to its rivals. To attract an audience using this technique, you must provide information pertinent to the review area and update it frequently.

Digital content. Bloggers, YouTubers, and social media influencers are examples of digital content makers. They provide specialized material that appeals to a certain audience. The objective is to naturally offer specialty goods that their target market would value. This raises the likelihood that they'll make a purchase and you'll get paid as an affiliate.

Courses, events, workshops. You may incorporate affiliate partnership offerings into your events if you're a teacher.

Regardless of the path you choose, the two most important aspects of affiliate marketing are authenticity and audience development.

Likely, you won't be successful in turning your audience into affiliate sales if you can't connect with them.


To pick a platform and method, ask yourself:

  • What platforms do you use the most?
  • Which platforms do you understand best?

Common platforms affiliate marketers use are:

  • Blogging
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • TikTok
  • Pinterest
  • Pay per click (PPC)

You can produce high-quality content by starting with a marketing platform you are familiar with. A stronger, more enthusiastic audience that you can convert into purchases can emerge from this.

Decide your niche and audience

Aim for a specialty that you are informed and passionate about when selecting one. This makes you appear more credible and real to potential clients as a source of information. Additionally, it assists you in choosing the companies and items you wish to advertise.

Consider starting a blog on dogs as an example. You are passionate about assisting other owners in taking care of their sprocker spaniels since you have one of your own.

You start a blog similar to Sprocker Lovers, publish frequently, invite readers to join your email list, and ask them to share your posts. Your specialty is sprocker spaniels, therefore you'll spend money on content marketing and search engine optimization to expand your owner base.

The theme you select for your affiliate site will determine how much time or work you'll need to invest in developing it until you start to see SEO benefits, says Elise.

“Large blogging sites with considerably larger marketing expenditures, for example, dominate SERPs for software, marketing, and health care. Finding untapped markets with little competition and entering them before others are aware of them is the key.

Utilize affiliate marketing tools like social listening tools, website analytics, and social media insights as you publish additional content to learn more about your audience and their preferences.

You must be so familiar with your audience that you comprehend why they choose to follow you in the first place.


Keep in mind that posting is not compensated for. A performance-based internet company, affiliate marketing. Knowing your audience's preferences will enable you to recommend the finest goods to them and increase your affiliate income.

Find your products

Your audience must relate to what you're saying if you want to succeed as an affiliate marketer. You must advertise things or services that people desire. If you do this incorrectly, your audience will suffer as well as your success and credibility.

Don't worry if you're unsure of where to hunt for goods or businesses to collaborate with. Numerous affiliate markets exist, including:

Another choice is to look for an affiliate program on the websites of the goods and services you use and enjoy. On their websites, big businesses frequently advertise programs like Amazon Associates or the Shopify Affiliate Program.

A direct strategy is another option. Whether you come across a terrific product, get in touch with the creator and ask if they have an affiliate marketing scheme. If they don't, they may be willing to work with you to agree, such as giving you a unique promo code to share with your followers.

When you're the first to ask and have a suitable distribution method, like asking the manufacturer of a new fitness product if you're a health and wellness blogger, you'll frequently find the greatest offers.

You must abide by the terms of service for affiliate marketing programs, so carefully read them. For instance, some platforms won't let you buy pay-per-click advertisements using the name of the product or firm, and your link will often contain a cookie with a set expiration date.

Choose your first affiliate program

The most crucial factor to bear in mind when you brainstorm ideas or peruse affiliate networks is that the product should be compatible with your audience or the audience you intend to grow. Do you think your intended audience would find this valuable? Does it relate to your field of study?

For instance, a cuisine blogger is unlikely to endorse cosmetics. It would make more sense to sell a broad variety of other items instead, such as kitchenware, meal sets, gourmet ingredients, or even aprons.

Additionally, check to see if the product or service you're marketing fits the platform on which you're doing so. Clothing and household goods, for instance, work well on sites with a lot of images, like Instagram. On longer-form media, like a blog or YouTube, your conversion rates may be better if you're promoting more involved items, like software.

Tips for affiliate marketing success

Although you still need to put in some upfront work, affiliate marketing money eventually has the potential to turn into a passive income source. The caliber of your evaluation will determine how successful your program is.

It's better to go personal while writing reviews. In a blog article, social media post, Instagram Story, or YouTube video, describe your experience. Give a sincere assessment based on your knowledge of the product and experience with it if you're submitting a personal review. Your authenticity will increase with your level of openness. If others believe they can trust you, they will feel more at ease adopting your counsel.

Because consumers must have enough faith in you to follow your advice, trust is a crucial component of any affiliate marketing activities. Your sector and the items you're endorsing will determine how much trust you'll need to generate affiliate sales. For instance, it takes more trust to be a successful affiliate for a $1,000 course than it does for a $20 t-shirt.

In addition to merely sharing your personal experiences, you may gain the trust of your audience by promoting fewer affiliates, only endorsing goods you actually use and being an authority in your field. People rely on my recommendations for Canadian financial applications, for instance, but it doesn't guarantee that I'll be successful as a Sephora affiliate.

Desirae Odjick, founder of Half Banked

Talk to a product expert

Interviewing other consumers of the good or service, as well as the maker or seller, is another approach. This may give your review more substance and offer the reader a story to follow.

Create a product tutorial

A lesson on the offer is another technique to increase visitors, even if your success with affiliate marketing might rely on the size of your total following.

Google searches for “how to” topics like “how to save money for college” or “how to decorate a laundry room” are rather popular. Your recommendations will make more sense in context and provide the client a stronger incentive to buy the product you're promoting if you offer a tutorial that addresses the searcher's issue and clearly illustrates the value of the product.

Build an email list

A list of people you've gathered who want to hear from you via email is known as an email list. One of the greatest methods to communicate with individuals outside of social media is to create a contact list, thus doing so is crucial. An email has a higher conversion rate (66%) than social media and other marketing channels when it comes to purchases made as a result of receiving marketing communication.

Send a newsletter to subscribers once a week or twice a month using the emails you collect from your content. Affiliate marketers have a wide range of options for what they may email list members, including:

  • Reports
  • Special deals
  • New blog posts
  • Free downloads
  • Entertaining stories
  • Reminders and news
  • A look inside your life or business

Make use of the potential to add value for subscribers by using your email list. Respond to their email if they send you one. Keep your newsletter's rhythm and quality consistent. Then, once in a while, urge subscribers to purchase one or more affiliate products.

How frequently to send these promotional emails is not subject to any strict guidelines. Simply refrain from sending them frequently to avoid coming out as spammy and unreliable. If you advertise quality items once a month, you are only helping people who need them.

Find relevant search terms

Discover out what search terms people would use to find a solution to a similar issue if you're marketing an offer through a blog post. A useful tool that may be used is Google Ads Keyword Planner. (You must first establish an account; it is free to use).

Consider your angle

Determine how much effort to put into instructional or tutorial content, which frequently serves as a natural lead-in to someone using a product for themselves, depending on your offer.

You may, for instance, film yourself using and making the most of a tangible product or demonstrate the advantages of a digital product, like software. If you receive the merchandise in the mail, share your experience unboxing it on social media.

Set your distribution strategy

Share your promotional content on your website or social media after you've written it. You may create an email marketing campaign if you have a subscriber list. Additionally, make sure your website has an affiliate marketing center with a resources page where you can offer a brief list of all the tools you use and adore.

Try offering a bonus

Marketers will occasionally provide bonuses to anyone who makes a purchase in order to promote their affiliate programs. For instance, you might offer every follower who makes a purchase a free copy of an ebook you produced.

Such promotions entice clients to purchase by offering a better value. They are particularly effective if the incentive you are offering is something you regularly sell as customers can view its exact financial worth on your website.

When the famous B-School for entrepreneurs is opened each year by business coach Marie Forleo, you may see various instances of affiliate bonuses in action. Forleo's own copywriter, Laura Belgray, gives a one-on-one copywriting session as a bonus to attract sign-ups through her affiliate link.

Amy Porterfield, a marketing expert, offers a bonus package that includes access to a secret Facebook group, a live event invitation, Q&A sessions, and some downloads. If multiple other affiliates are marketing the same product, adding a bonus might be a fantastic approach to distinguish apart.

Keep things legal and above board

Remember to let readers know that your content contains affiliate links. One reason is that the FTC mandates it. However, disclosing your connection might also help you engage your audience.

For instance, the bloggers at Frugalwoods who specialize in financial independence provide the following disclosure: “Frugalwoods occasionally publishes affiliate endorsements and advertisements, which means that if you click on a link and make a purchase, Frugalwoods may receive a portion of the sale at no additional cost to you. We only discuss and advertise items that we firmly believe in. We pledge not to inform you about stupid things.

It's worthwhile to take the time to speak with a lawyer if you need assistance deciding what terminology to use in a disclaimer.

Affiliate marketing program examples

You may get ideas and evidence that affiliate marketing is a legitimate and well-paying revenue source by taking a look at some of the businesses that engage in it.


The Shopify Affiliate Program is a network of businesses, educators, influencers, and artists that provide Shopify recommendations. Signing up for the program is free; all you have to do is apply.

Partners that are accepted receive a unique referral link to share with their audience. They make money as an affiliate every time someone registers up through their link.

shopify affiliate program

Shopify Affiliates earn $58 on average for each referral who signs up for a premium Shopify plan. Affiliates may make as much or as little money as they wish depending on how much effort they devote to their affiliate marketing approach.

I've dealt with many of firms in my 11 years of online experience, and Shopify has been one of the finest! Their affiliate management and program have made it simple for me to promote their product, earn money, and benefit my community.

Ezra Firestone of Smart Marketer


Healthish, a water bottle retailer, leveraged affiliate marketing to develop a million-dollar business. Rather than using traditional affiliates, it relied on Instagram influencers to raise awareness for the debut of its flagship product, the WB-1 bottle.

healthlish affiliate program

The company still collaborates with influencer accounts with up to 100,000 followers. Each month, it collaborates with over 300 producers to produce content that advertises and popularises the bottle widely.


The New York Times purchased the affiliate website Wirecutter in 2016, and it claims that it only offers advice after “in-depth investigation, interviewing, and testing by teams of senior journalists, scientists, and researchers”.

wirecutter affiliate program


BuzzFeed's shopping section began as a gift guide and later added reviews of numerous product categories.

buzzfeed shopping

The website stands out since it offers excellent recommendations at three distinct price ranges for a variety of commonplace things. The in-depths of BuzzFeed's product evaluations offer the reader a lot of value. For example, consider the posts on white women's t-shirts and toilet paper.


The affiliate marketing program run by Amazon called Amazon Affiliates is one of the most popular examples. Amazon Associates now holds the largest market share among affiliate networks (45.81%), followed by CJ Affiliate (8.14%) and Rakuten Affiliate Network (7.85 percent ).

amazon affiliates

Products from several categories are available through Amazon Affiliates. It's a fantastic entry point into affiliate marketing for newcomers. To point their audience to product suggestions, authors, publishers, and bloggers can utilize Amazon affiliate links. You can get paid for qualifying purchases through the link referral.

Consider the song Sprocker Lovers. Are Spaniels Good Running Partners? & 6 Tips for Safe Running is the subject of a blog article by the website's owner Elise Dopson. She offers advice regarding how spaniels should wear a high-visibility dog jacket when jogging at night in the article.

sprocker spaniels blog

Clicking the link will take the reader to Amazon, where they may make their purchase of a high-visibility dog jacket.

amazon affiliate exampe


According to statistics from ShareASale, retailer Urikar provides a high-ticket affiliate program with average commissions of $1,460. It offers accessories, indoor and outdoor exercise equipment, massagers, and other wellness-related goods for sale.


If you are a fitness influencer with a sizable following, Urikar gives a 10% fee on all orders, which may add up rapidly. The company's most well-known item, an AI-powered muscle massager, has a suggested retail price of $139.99, meaning you'll make $13.99 on each sale. Your account manager and dashboard to monitor conversions and sales are also provided by Urikar's program.

Start your affiliate marketing business today

A profitable method to add a new revenue stream without taking on too much risk is to make money through affiliate marketing networks. Your time is the only expense. You may keep enjoying the benefits by putting in the time upfront.

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