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What is Affiliate Marketing? A 2022 Guide to Getting Started

What is Affiliate Marketing? A 2022 Guide to Getting Started

This comprehensive guide will walk you through money-making marketing techniques, along with online marketing tips and tricks to help you make more money.

Smart entrepreneurs who run thriving businesses know that there is always more they can do to grow that business.


what is affiliate marketing
what is affiliate marketing

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a process where publishers earn a commission by promoting a product or service created by another retailer or advertiser using an affiliate link. An affiliate partner is paid to deliver a specific result to a retailer or advertiser.

Usually, the result is a sale. But some affiliate marketing programs can reward you for getting leads, free trial user clicks to a website or downloads of an app.

Done right, an effective affiliate marketing strategy can lead you to a profitable online business idea that brings you a healthy income.


How Affiliate Marketing Works

Affiliates earn a commission every time someone makes a purchase through the unique affiliate link linked to their referral.


  1. You display a Store Z ad or link on your website, blog, or social network.
  2. A customer makes a purchase at store Z.
  3. Affiliate network records transactions.
  4. Purchase is confirmed by Store Z.
  5. They give you a monetary commission.

Commission rates for affiliate sales vary by company and offer. On the low end, you'll earn about 5% of sales, but with some tweaks, you can earn up to 50%, usually when you promote a class or event.


Types of Affiliate Marketing

Affiliates are always a mystery: you never know if the person has ever used the product or if they are just promoting it for money. Both cases still exist today.

It wasn't until 2009 that famous affiliate marketer Pat Flynn divided the different types of affiliate marketers into three groups. Understanding this type of affiliate marketing can show you the different ways people make money online in this space, regardless of their moral compass.


Freelance Affiliate Marketing

The first type of affiliate marketing is known as "independent" or when you have no authority in the niche of the product you are promoting. You often run a pay-per-click advertising campaign with your affiliate link and hope that people will click on it, buy the product and earn a commission.

Freelance affiliate marketing is attractive because you don't have to do any legwork. Affiliate marketing companies are built on credibility and trust with online target audiences. Some affiliate marketers don't have the time or desire to build these relationships, so this type of marketing is your best bet.

"Freelance affiliate marketing isn't a real business model, it's for people who just want to generate income," explains Elise Dopson, founder of Sparkle Lovers.


Relevant Affiliate Marketing

Relevant affiliate marketing is the process of promoting products and services that you don't use but that are relevant to your niche. In this case, an affiliate marketer has an audience, whether through blogs, YouTube, TikTok, or any other channel. A relevant affiliate marketer also has influence, making you a trusted source for recommending products, even if you've never used them before.

While relevant affiliate marketing can bring in more affiliate income, it comes with the risk of promoting something you've never tried before. It could be the worst product or service ever, and you won't even know it. All it takes is one bad proposal to lose your audience's trust.


Affiliate Marketing is Included

Implicit affiliate marketing refers to recommending only products and services that the affiliate marketer has used and believes in.

In this type of marketing, an affiliate marketer uses their influence to promote products and services that followers may actually need, rather than paying for ad clicks. Building that kind of reputation with an audience takes time, but is essential to building a sustainable business.

Ellis explains that the affiliate approach makes advertising much easier for affiliate marketing partners. Alice prefers this approach. gives because it is honest and "the only real way to be a reliable source on anything."

Affiliate marketing is the only real way to become a trusted source on any topic.

Elise Dopson, founder of Sprocker Lovers


Advantages and Disadvantages of Affiliate Marketing

Yes, affiliate marketing is worth it considering its growing popularity. Statista estimates that the affiliate marketing industry will reach $8.2 billion by 2022, up from $5.4 billion in 2017. It is also a low-cost business venture from which you can profit immensely. But before diving in, consider the pros and cons of entering the world of affiliate marketing.



While industry growth is a good indicator of success, entrepreneurs take this referral marketing route for a few other reasons as well.


Easy to Operate

Your side of the equation involves handling the digital marketing side of just building and selling the product. You don't have to worry about more difficult tasks like developing, supporting, or fulfilling the offer.


Low Risk

Since there is no cost to join affiliate programs, you can start making money with an established affiliate product or service without any initial investment. Affiliate marketing can also generate relatively passive income through commissions, an ideal money-making scenario. Although you will have to spend time initially building traffic sources, your affiliate link can continue to generate a steady paycheck.


Easy to Scale

Successful affiliate marketing offers the ability to significantly scale your earnings without hiring additional help. You can introduce new products to your existing audience and create campaigns for additional products while your existing work continues to generate affiliate income in the background.

Before you get too excited, know that great affiliate marketing is based on trust. While there are a seemingly endless number of products or services to promote, it's best to only feature those that you personally use or recommend. Even when a product fits your interest or an existing hobby, becoming a great affiliate marketer for that product takes a lot of work.



Affiliate marketing also has some disadvantages compared to other types of marketing campaigns. Before we move on, let's look at some of the challenges you will face on your journey to affiliate marketing success.


Patience is Required

Affiliate marketing is not a get-rich-quick scheme.

You may want to test different channels to see which one connects best with your audience. Spend time blogging, posting free content on social media, hosting virtual events, and doing other lead generation activities on your marketing channels.


On Commission Basis

There is no boss giving you a weekly paycheck as an affiliate marketer. Affiliate programs work on a commission basis, whether they pay you per lead, click, or sale.

Companies use a temporary browser cookie to track people's actions based on their content. You get paid when someone takes a desired action.


No Control Over the Program

Affiliates must abide by the rules established by the Company for their program. You must follow their guidelines in what you say and how you present your product or service. Competitors should follow the same recommendations, so you have to be creative to stand out from the crowd.


How Do Affiliate Marketers Make Money?

Affiliate marketing income spans a wide spectrum. There are some affiliate marketers who make a few hundred dollars a month and others who make six figures a year. The more followers you have, the more money you can earn as an affiliate marketer.

Compensation software company Payscale reports that the average annual salary for an affiliate marketer is more than $53,000, based on more than 7,000 salary profiles, with many affiliate marketers earning significantly more.

There are also affiliate marketers like blogger Ryan Robinson who earn over $17,000 per month through affiliate income alone.

But how do affiliates actually get paid? Companies may also call it a pricing model, payment model, conversion rate, or other variations.

Regardless of the name, the payment model tells you for what purposes you will be paid. If you are promoting a software product, this action can be a free trial registration. For an affiliate marketer promoting physical products, the goal is likely to be a purchase.

Many programs run on last-click attribution, which means the recipient of the last click before a purchase gets 100% credit. For example, you can share the same credit for a sale if there are multiple affiliates in the buyer's funnel.

Five common ways to pay affiliates include:

  • Pay per sale, where you earn a commission on every sale you make. This is a common payment model for e-commerce offerings.
  • Pay Per Action, which gives you a commission for a specific action. Many affiliate programs use this payment model because it is broad and can be applied to different offers: newsletter subscription, one click, contact request, form submission, etc.
  • Pay per install, where you get paid for every install your website traffic generates. Your content is intended to promote mobile apps and software for people to download or install.
  • Pay per lead is a popular payment method as businesses use it for sweepstakes, lead generation, and other types of offers. Cost-per-lead offers are common for beginners because it's easier to generate leads than sell products to an audience.
  • Pay Per Click is a rare payment system where you earn a commission for every click on your affiliate link. Pay-per-click programs are used by large marketers with the goal of building brand awareness. Users don't need to register or buy anything, just visit the merchant's website.

How much you earn depends on your affiliate location. While book, media, and clothing categories earned more than $6 per commission. The highest average commission we found was about $289.06 per sale.


How to Start Affiliate Marketing

  1. Choose your platform and method.
  2. Decide your niche and audience.
  3. Find your products.
  4. Choose your first affiliate program.

Just like running your own small business, becoming a successful affiliate requires dedication and discipline.


Choose Your Platform and Method

There are many affiliate marketing ideas that you can choose from based on different methods:

  • Thematic and niche review sites. These are sites that review products for a specific audience or compare a product line to its competitors. This method requires you to create content relevant to the review space and post regularly to attract an audience.
  • digital content. They create specific content that resonates with the target audience. The goal is to organically introduce niche products that your audience enjoys.

Regardless of which path you take, authenticity and audience building are two of the most important elements to affiliate marketing.

If you can't authentically connect with your audience, chances are you won't be able to convert them into affiliate sales.

To choose a platform and method, ask yourself:

  • Which platforms do you use the most?
  • Which platforms do you prefer?

Common platforms used by affiliate marketers are:

  • Blog
  • Instagram
  • Tick tock
  • Facebook
  • Pinterest
  • Pay Per Click (PPC)


Decide Your Niche and Audience

When it comes to choosing a niche, aim for something you know and are passionate about. This helps you present yourself to potential customers as an authentic and reliable source of information. It also helps you figure out which products and brands you want to promote.

For example, say you've started a blog about dogs. He owns a Sprocker Spaniel and enjoys helping other owners care for their Sprockers.

You create a blog like Sprocker Lovers, post regularly and encourage people to sign up for an email list and share your content. Sprocker Spaniels is his niche, and he's going to invest in marketing and content optimization to grow his audience of owners.

The secret is to find untapped areas where the competition can compete. Don't be so strict and get into it before other people recognize you."


As you post more, you can use affiliate marketing tools like social listening, website analytics, and social media insights to learn who your audience is and what they like.

It is important that you know your audience well so that you understand why they follow you.

Remember, you don't get paid to post. Affiliate marketing is a performance-based online business. If you know what your audience likes, you can recommend them the best products and earn more affiliate income.


Find Your Products

To earn income as an affiliate marketer, your audience needs to connect with what you have to say. The products or services you promote should be products they really want. Getting it wrong can hinder your success and damage your credibility, as well as your audience.

If you're wondering where to find products or brands that work, don't worry. There are many affiliate markets, including:

  • Future affiliates
  • AvantLink
  • Affiliated with FT
  • Click Bank
  • Flex offers
  • Link connector
  • Share on sale.

Another option is to check the websites of the products and services you use and like to see if they have an affiliate program. Large companies often have programs that they promote on their sites, such as Amazon Associates or the Shopify Affiliate Program.

You can also take a more direct approach. Contact the owner of a great product that you look for and see if they offer an affiliate marketing program. If they don't, they might be happy to make you a deal, like offering you an exclusive coupon code to share with your followers.

The best deals are often found when you ask first and have a relevant distribution channel, such as contacting the seller of a new fitness product if you're a health and fitness blogger.

Affiliate marketing programs will have terms of service that you must adhere to, so read the fine print. For example, your affiliate link usually contains a cookie with a specific duration, and some programs do not allow you to purchase pay-per-click advertising using a product or company name.

Choose Your First Affiliate Program

When you're brainstorming products or browsing through affiliate platforms, the most important criteria to keep in mind is that the product should resonate with your audience or the audience you're trying to create. Have hope. Ask yourself: Is this something your target audience will find valuable? Does it suit your skills?

A food blogger might not promote beauty products, for example. A wider range of other products, such as cookware, meal kits, gourmet ingredients, or even aprons, would make more sense.

Also, make sure that the product or service you are promoting fits the platform you are promoting it on. However, if you're promoting deep purchases like software, your conversion rates may be higher on long-form platforms, such as a blog or YouTube.


Tips for Affiliate Marketing Success

As we mentioned above, affiliate marketing income can eventually turn into passive income, but you'll still have to do some heavy lifting.

To create a good review, it's best to be personal. Share your experience on your blog, social media post, Instagram story, or YouTube video. If you are writing a personal review, please provide an honest opinion based on your experience and knowledge of the product.

Trust is a key factor in your affiliate marketing efforts, as people need to trust you enough to follow your recommendations. The level of confidence you need to sell affiliates depends on your industry and the products you recommend; For example, a $1,000 course requires more confidence to be an effective affiliate than a $20 T-shirt.

Beyond simply sharing your experiences, you can build trust by limiting the number of people you promote, or by only becoming an affiliate for products you personally use and sticking to your area of expertise. For example, people trust my Canadian financial app recommendations, but that doesn't mean I'll have more luck being a Sephora affiliate.

Desirae Odjick, founder of Half Banked


Create a Product Tutorial

While your success with affiliate marketing may depend on the total size of your followers, another way to generate traffic is to provide tutorials on offer.


Create an Email List

An email list is a list of contacts you've collected who want to receive information from you. Creating a contact list is important because it is one of the best ways to connect with people outside of social media. When it comes to purchases made as a result of receiving a marketing message, email has the highest conversion rate (66%) compared to social media and other marketing channels.

Combine emails with your content and send weekly or bi-weekly newsletters to subscribers.

  • Free downloads
  • Reports
  • New blog posts
  • Funny stories
  • Reminders and news.
  • Special offer

Use your email. Reply if you receive an email. Be consistent with the timing and quality of your newsletter. Then, periodically, promote an affiliate product or two to subscribers.

There is no hard and fast rule on how often to send these promotional emails. Just don't send them every time or it will look spammy and untrustworthy. If you promote a good product once a month, you're only providing value to subscribers who need it.


Find Relevant Search Terms

If you're promoting an offer through a blog post, research what keywords someone might use in a search engine to find an answer to a related problem.


Consider Your Angle

Depending on your offering, calculate how much energy you should invest in tutorial content, which is often a natural lead for someone to try the product for themselves.

For example, you can record a video of yourself using and taking advantage of a physical product or showing the benefits of a digital product, such as software. Unboxing posts are popular, so if you receive a product in the mail, document your opening experience.


Develop Your Distribution Strategy

After writing your promotional content, share it on your website or social media platforms. Make sure you have an affiliate marketing hub on your website with a resources page where you share a quick list of all the tools you use and love.


Try Offering a Bonus

Sometimes sellers promote their affiliate programs by giving a bonus to those who buy the offer. For example, you can give away an e-book written to any follower who makes a purchase.

Such promotions encourage customers to buy by sweetening the deal. They're especially persuasive if the bonus you're offering is something you sell regularly because then buyers can see the actual dollar value right on your site.

You can find numerous examples of affiliate bonuses when business coach Mary Forleo opens her popular B-School for entrepreneurs every year. To encourage signups through her affiliate link, Forleo's own copywriter, Laura Belgray, offers a one-on-one writing session as a bonus.


Keep Things Legal and Honest

Don't forget to let followers know that your post has affiliate links. For one, it's required by the FTC. But explaining the reason for your subscription can also help you connect with your audience.

For example, Frugalwoods financial freedom bloggers offer this information: "Frugalwoods sometimes runs sponsorship and affiliate advertising, which means that if you click on a link and buy something, Frugalwoods sells can receive a percentage of, at no cost. Extra for you. . We only write and promote products we believe in. We promise not to tell you stupid things."

If you need help determining what language to use in a disclaimer, it's worth taking the time to consult with an attorney.


Examples of Affiliate Marketing Programs

Looking at some of the companies involved in affiliate marketing will give you inspiration and proof that it is a legitimate and well-paying income.



The Shopify Affiliate Program is a network of entrepreneurs, educators, influencers, and creators who refer to Shopify. Signing up for the program is free, all you need to do is apply.

Once approved, affiliate partners receive a unique affiliate link to share with their audience. Every time someone signs up using your link, they earn affiliate income.

Affiliates can earn or earn as much as they want, it all depends on how much time they spend on their affiliate marketing strategy.

I've worked with dozens of companies over my 11 years online, and I have to say Shopify has been one of the best companies to work for! Your affiliate managers and program have made it easy for me to promote your product, make money and provide value to my community."

Ezra Firestone of Smart Marketer



Bottled water retailer Healthish used affiliate marketing to build a million-dollar brand. Instead of going the traditional affiliate route, it used Instagram influencers to build awareness for the launch of its key product, the WB-1 bottle.

The brand continues to work with influencer accounts with 100,000 followers and above. Work with approximately 300 creators per month to create content that will mass market and sell the bottle.



The Wirecutter, an affiliate website promoting devices and gadgets that was acquired by The New York Times in 2016, says it only reports, interviews, and rigorous testing by teams of experienced journalists, scientists, and researchers. Makes recommendations.



Shopping on BuzzFeed started as a gift guide and expanded to include reviews of various product categories.

What makes the site unique is that it covers a wide variety of common items and offers great selections at three different price points. BuzzFeed's product reviews are quite comprehensive, giving readers a lot of value.



In fact, Amazon Affiliates currently has the largest affiliate network market share (45.81%), followed by CJ Affiliate (8.14%) and Rakuten Affiliate Network (7.85%).

Amazon Affiliates offers a variety of products in many different categories. This is a great way to get into affiliate marketing as a beginner. With link referral, you can earn money on qualifying purchases.

Take Sprocker lovers for example. Site owner Elise Dopson wrote a blog post titled Are Spaniels Good Running Companions? And 6 tips for driving safely. In the article, he recommends a tip on how spaniels should wear a high-visibility dog jacket when running at night.

If a reader wants to purchase a high-visibility dog jacket, they can click on the link and go to Amazon to complete the purchase.



According to data from ShareASale, retailer Urikar offers a high-value affiliate program with commissions averaging $1,460. It sells fitness and wellness products such as massage guns, indoor and outdoor exercise equipment, and accessories.

Urikar offers a 10% commission on all sales, which can add up quickly if you're a fitness influencer with a huge following. Their most popular product, an AI-powered muscle massager, retails for $139.99, which means you'll earn $13.99 for each sale. The Urikar program also provides its own dedicated account manager and affiliate dashboard to track conversions and sales.


Start Your Affiliate Marketing Business Today

Making money with affiliate marketing programs can be a rewarding way to add a new stream of income with little or no upfront money. Affiliate marketing takes time, but by spending hours finding the right affiliate network and dialing in your strategy, you can build an affiliate system that will generate passive income for years to come.

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