How to Start Affiliate Marketing: A Complete Guide For The Best Results

If you want to know about affiliate marketing, you are probably looking to make some cash living the laptop lifestyle. Or maybe you are looking for some passive income, make money while you sleep eh?!

Affiliate marketing is an age-old, but effective method of making money online. However, there are so many unanswered questions around affiliate marketing. A common one is“what exactly is affiliate marketing?” The second most asked question is, does it actually work?Can you make a living out of it? Or is it just about earning a few bucks here and there using your marketing skills?

Influencers doing affiliate marketing for a company

Well, if you have such questions in mind, you have come to the right place.
In this blog post, we will cover absolutely everything about affiliate marketing like what is it, why should you even care, who is it for, and most importantly, how to do it.

Read on to find out!

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Simply put, affiliate marketing is a way to earn money online by recommending digital product or services to people and earning a commission.

Affiliate marketing is based on the phenomenon of revenue sharing.

If you are a brand or merchant and want to sell more of your product, you can have people or affiliates sell your product for you and offer a financial incentive, i.e. a commission on every sale they make. It’s a win-win situation for both parties.
As Wikipedia puts it,

“Affiliate marketing is a type of performance-based marketing in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought by the affiliate’s own marketing efforts.”

Different People involved in Affiliate Marketing Businesses:

There are mainly four major players in an affiliate marketing program:

  • The Merchant (or the brand/company)
  • The Publisher (or affiliate)
  • The Network
  • The Customer

Let’s take a brief look at each party involved in an affiliate marketing program in detail:

1. The Merchant( or the brand/company)

Mcdonalds brand

The merchant is someone at the beginning of the affiliate marketing chain. The merchant, aka the retailer/brand/vendor, is someone who creates the product and puts it up for sale.
The merchant can be anyone- from an individual, blogger, entrepreneur to big brands like Amazon, they just need to have a product to sell.

2. The Publisher (or affiliate)

The publisher of affiliate is someone who promotes the merchant’s products or services for a commission. The affiliate can also be an individual or a large company. The goal of an affiliate is to use her marketing skills and try and convey the features and benefits of the merchant’s products to the customers so that they end up buying it.

The affiliate doesn’t earn anything until the product is sold. The commissions can vary from a few bucks to thousands of dollars, depending upon the product and the parameters set by the merchant.

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3. The Network

The network is an intermediary between a merchant and an affiliate. Some common affiliate networks you might have heard of include Google AdSense, ClickBank and Amazon associates.

For ex: Affiliate networks like Commission Junction handle the payment and delivery of the products and makes sure that the exchange between the merchant and the affiliate is transparent and fair.  These networks also help affiliates plan, execute and measure affiliate marketing efforts for maximum returns.

The network act as a virtual marketplace of products, out of which the affiliate can choose which one to promote. Some networks even allow the merchants to choose which affiliate they would like to work with.

One of the largest affiliate networks is Amazon. As early as in 2008 Amazon’s affiliate program already had over 2 million affiliates aboard.  Amazon has an affiliate associate program that lets you promote any product on Amazon and lists down their respective commission on the sale. It is free for anyone to use. Anyone who signs up gets a custom affiliate link to each product which you can easily track in your dashboard.

As affiliate marketing becomes more sophisticated, these networks play a crucial role in managing the affiliate initiatives and ensuring fair play.

4. The Consumer

A cat as a consumer getting influenced by affiliate marketing

The consumer completes the affiliate cycle. Whenever a consumer clicks on an affiliate’s product link and goes to the merchant’s site to buy the product, only then the affiliate is entitled to a commission. Usually, the merchant offers a ‘cookie period’ till which the affiliate is entitled to the commission. For ex: If the cookie period is seven days, the affiliate will get the commission of the sale if a customer uses the affiliate link and buys the product within the next seven days.

One common misperception is that the consumers pay a higher price for affiliate products. This is not true as the cost of the affiliate network is already included in the product’s price.

Now that we have the basics out of the way, let’s see why affiliate marketing is a lucrative profession.

Benefits of Starting Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing can be a lucrative business if executed correctly.  Affiliate marketing is a critical part of any online business. It is one of the most effective and inexpensive ways to increase site traffic and generate more sales.

Affiliate marketing is somewhat better than traditional advertising as in affiliate marketing you pay only when you get results. Unless the affiliate makes a sale, he is not entitled to any commission. Whereas in traditional advertising, you pay for ads which may or may not result in increased sales.

If you have doubts regarding its authenticity and its ability to be relevant, let us give you some examples of what affiliate marketing can do for you.

1. Affiliate marketing helps in earning passive income:

Ever since the four-hour work week, everyone’s got the dream of making money while they sleep. “Side Hustle” can be a welcoming bonus to your 9-to-5. I mean, who wouldn’t love to make some extra cash using their laptops?!

Affiliate marketing can make your dreams of passive income come true. Even if you are a full-time professional and have a 9-to-5 job, you can still benefit from affiliate marketing as it doesn’t require a lot of your time. Depending upon the number of products you want to promote and the amount of money you are looking for, you can allocate time to your affiliate marketing efforts while continuing your job.

Just find a product in a niche which you are passionate about and use your marketing skills to earn a side income.

2. Affiliate marketing makes a good profession:

Describe your profession for purpose of becoming an affiliate gif

If you are serious about affiliate marketing, there’s no reason why you cannot turn your affiliate marketing efforts into a full-fledged business. An affiliate marketer can earn a few bucks to thousands of dollars per sale.
However, it requires a significant amount of time and effort to make it as a full-time profession.

According to a report by Rakuten Marketing, the market for affiliate marketing is expected to increase from $4.2 billion in 2015 to $6.8 billion in 2020. The returns are there if you are willing to put in the work!

3. It helps in increasing site traffic and page rank:

When your affiliates promote your product or service, they have a unique product URL. As more people click the affiliate link, naturally, your website traffic will increase. Increased traffic from multiple sources results into higher search engine optimization or SEO.

Since backlinks are a significant factor considered by search engines in ranking your page-  more the backlinks, higher the page-rank. Affiliates increase your visibility in a crowded internet space and allow your products and services to be discovered through multiple sources and not just by your own marketing efforts.

4. It is a great tool for marketing success and better conversions:

Consumer behavior is changing on the internet to research-based buying. Consumers tend to conduct online research and get information about the product and brand they are about to purchase from. In order to provide more valuable experience and have meaningful relationships with customers, professionals, especially marketers, are turning to content marketing.

Content marketing coupled with affiliate strategies can turn out to be a huge success for marketers.  More than 15% of the total digital media advertising sales imputes to affiliates marketing. 

When you genuinely try to solve customer problems and provide answers to their questions, you build a level of trust that goes way beyond your advertising dollars.  When you consistently provide valuable and informative content to people, your products become an easy sell.

81% of the brands and around 84% of the publishers leverage the strength of affiliate marketing.

Is Affiliate marketing For You?

Anyone can leverage affiliate marketing to brush up their sales and marketing skills and at the same, earn some money online. Whether you are professional, a student, a solopreneur, or a blogger- anyone is capable to do affiliate marketing if you are willing to put in the time and the effort.

Let’s see a brief overview of how different people can leverage affiliate marketing.

1. Students

Students learning about affiliate marketing gif

Affiliate marketing is an excellent way for students to earn some extra cash. Students are already spending the majority of their time online and hence know a lot of ins and outs of the digital world.

Affiliate marketing can help students in their education loans, tuition, books, and other miscellaneous schooling expenses.The fact that affiliate marketing is inexpensive to start with surely works in its favor. You would need:

  • An internet connection (which I’m sure students can’t live without)
  • A blog or website
  • If you don’t know how to or don’t want to make a blog, you can even review products online via YouTube and directly include affiliate links in the description of your YouTube videos.
  • You can make a Facebook business page or make use of Facebook store or Facebook groups to sell affiliate products
  • Instagram is another lucrative channel to promote your affiliate products and display them in a visually appealing manner. Just insert your affiliate product link in your bio and ask your followers to click that link to buy.

Apart from making money, affiliate marketing can be a good learning exercise for students as it teaches them hands-on marketing and sales and would be certainly beneficial for students with an entrepreneurial spirit.

2. Bloggers/Influencers

Affiliate marketing is the life and blood of nearly all bloggers and influencers.  By already having a significant amount of followers online, bloggers and influencers are in a great position to leverage affiliate marketing and make a living.

Your audience already trusts you with providing them with great content. By reviewing products on your blog and giving a clear call to action to your reader, you can easily earn good commissions. However, make sure you stick to your niche while selling affiliate products.

You have to make sure that the products you are reviewing are genuinely beneficial for your audience. If you have a blog about toys, do not try to sell shampoo just because the merchant is offering a higher commission. Selling something for your own greed is the quickest way to lose authenticity and trust, which otherwise takes years to build.

You should always sell relevant products without compromising the integrity of your content.

Related : Selling on Instagram 2020: How to Make Your Instagram Shoppable

3. Entrepreneur

A liitle kid working on a enterprise gif

An entrepreneur can leverage affiliate marketing in the following ways:

  • He can make affiliating marketing his primary business.
  • She can do this part-time in order to make money for her other businesses.
  • If he has a product or service, he can hire affiliate marketers to help promote his product and generate more sales. As entrepreneurs usually look for cost-effective marketing tactics to get the word out, affiliate marketing can be that tactic.

4. Brands

Affiliate marketing is a great tool for brands to increase their online presence and reach a wider, more global audience. Brands are realizing the power of affiliate marketing in driving conversions and increasing brand awareness and as a result, 99% of people utilize affiliate marketing to build there brand and businesses. 

The advertising dollars are quickly shifting towards the channels millennials spend most of their time on the internet. Platforms like Instagram has revolutionized affiliate marketing in this modern day digital world. Influencers with huge Instagram following are posting sponsored photos and videos of products and are getting paid handsomely by brands.

These influencers have a huge yet loyal audience who would rather trust their peers for product recommendations than a salesperson. On average, businesses generate $6.50 for every $1 invested in influencer marketing. Not a bad investment if you ask me!

If you do not belong to any of the above-mentioned categories, don’t worry. Affiliate marketing as previously mentioned can be leveraged by anyone who is willing to put the time and the effort.

Let’s see how you can start off with your affiliate marketing efforts.

How you can start affiliate marketing?

If you have made it this far, we’re sure you are convinced just how awesome affiliate marketing can be. You likely can’t wait to start off with affiliate marketing but don’t know where to start.
Well, the class isn’t over just yet. Read on to find out how you can jump-start your affiliate marketing and become an awesome affiliate marketer, one step at a time.

If you are a merchant:

If you want to make use of affiliate marketing as a merchant, just follow these simple steps:

1: Come up with a product or service

Simple, right?

Well coming up with a product idea is simple. Bringing it to reality and making sure it’s something that people want is another ball game. Ideas are really dime a dozen. Tweet us, we’ll give you hundreds of product ideas. However, if you want to make money through affiliate marketing, you can’t go with your ‘gut’ feeling.

Do an intensive research in the field you are interested in and what kind of products or services already exist in that market. Try to come up with a better solution or a unique spin to an older product. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you take plenty of feedback on your idea before putting in your hard-earned money in executing it.

Pitch your product ideas to your friends, family, and relatives. Get their feedback and ask them whether it’s something they would pay for.

2: Execute

A affiliate marketer executing her online plan

Once you get the green signals from your peers, start developing the product. Making digital products or services is comparatively cheaper than physical products. Hire a good developer if you are not good at programming.

Don’t try to do everything yourself.

3: Look for affiliates

Social media is your path to finding relevant affiliates who will sell your products like hot cakes!

Let’s take an example. If you make action figures (the narrower the niche, the better), search for action figure toys reviews on YouTube. Reach out to the influencers with decent subscribers and ask them to review and feature your toys on their YouTube channel.

The reviewer can then provide links to the toys in the video’s description and ask his/her viewers to go through that link to buy the toys.

Similarly, you can look for affiliate marketers on other social media channels like Instagram and Facebook.

If you are an affiliate:

If you want to try out affiliate marketing yourself, follow these simple steps:

1: Choose the type of product

This is an important step that many people ignore. Most people try to promote products with high commission margins. Even though it is not a bad thing to do, but it’s also not the smartest.

It is critical that you really like the product and believe in its value proposition as you would be creating content around it in the future. If you genuinely enjoy using a product, creating a blog post, a video or a podcast promoting it becomes easier. Don’t try to outsmart the audience. They would know if it’s not coming from your heart!

2: Create a blog or a website

Once you have decided on your niche and product, the next step is to create a platform to sell those products. If you are good at writing content, creating a blog would be the best bet.
Although, with the increased usage of social media, people have started affiliate marketing right from these social media channels, even without a blog or a website.

However, having a blog/website is the most effective and future-proof way of carrying on your affiliate marketing efforts.You can make a free blog or website using WordPress and other sites. These platforms make it extremely easy for anyone to have a website or blog with little to no coding knowledge.

Although, you can always ask your developer friend to add some customized functionalities.

3: Sign-up for an affiliate program

Amazon affiliate program is one of the most famous amongst affiliate marketers. This is because:

  • Amazon offers a wide variety of products to choose from
  • Amazon provides different options to display those products on your website (as a banner ad, square ad, ticker, etc)
  • It clearly states the amount of commission you can make on different products and recommends you the best deals
  • You can easily track your earnings and sources using their affiliate dashboard.

Note: If You wanna start as an affiliate, you must check out Elink’s Affiliate Program 

Elink's Affiliate program

4: Create content

Now that you have your website up and running, it’s time to create tons and tons of content around your affiliate products.

Remember, the goal is not only to promote the products but also to educate and provide value to readers.

Only by providing value to your readers consistently, you can build a massive following and trust among your reader. When you have their trust, the products sell themselves.
The type of content you can create can include:

  • Product reviews
  • Comparison videos
  • How-to tutorials
  • Unboxing or first impressions video
  • Best deals and discounts

5: Grow your business

There are various tactics by which you can grow your affiliate marketing business and create more sales. Some of these include:

  • Build an email list with prospects
  • Promote your products with sponsored ads on social media
  • Make use of PPC advertising on search engines
  • Engage with your audience with live webinars

Make sure to try out these paid tactics only when you are generating some revenue from your website or blog. Paid advertising only acts as gasoline to your affiliate fire. If there’s no fire, why would you pour gasoline? Anyways, you get the point.


If you are serious about affiliate marketing, just start. It’s all fun and games until you actually start putting in the hours, day in and day out. The reason why some people might tell you affiliate marketing doesn’t work anymore is that they simply did not try hard enough.

It’s a long-term strategy and requires a lot of hard work. The best thing about affiliate marketing is its inexpensive nature. You can start with literally 0 dollars. All you need is a laptop and an internet connection.

So what are you waiting for? Bookmark this page for future reference and start off with your affiliate marketing efforts today.

And remember,

It takes years of hard work to become an overnight success!

What are your thoughts on affiliate marketing? Or on action figure toys?!! Let’s have a discussion in the comment section below!

Further reads:

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