What is Affiliate Marketing? The #1 Common Way Bloggers Make Money & How to Start!

by | Updated on August 31st, 2022

When I first starting blogging in 2010, I had no clue what affiliate marketing was, and to be honest, I didn’t care. I was just blogging for fun!

Well, if you’ve decided that you want to make money from your blog, then you must learn what affiliate marketing is all about, and how to apply it to your blog.

Why, because it’s the #1 money-maker for the majority of bloggers.

We’re going to approach this as if you were just like me when I first started blogging.

So, what we’re going to do here is try and make things as simple as possible for you by explaining affiliate marketing in the most basic terms.

We’ll also give you some pointers on how to get started!

What is Affiliate Marketing & How Do I Get Started?

In this article, we’re going to start by answering the question, “what is affiliate marketing,” why you should care, how to get started, along with creating a path to becoming an effective affiliate marketer.

With a little effort, you too can earn affiliate income in a short period of time using your blog as the marketing tool to generate revenue.

Let’s get started…

What is Affiliate Marketing?

In general, affiliate marketing is an online business terminology where a person or business promotes products or services for another person or company. The person promoting the product or service receives a commission from the sale known as an “affiliate sale”.

This is somewhat similar to a commission earned by a salesperson. However, affiliate marketers are not employees of the company they are promoting.

Successful affiliate marketing is where affiliate marketers promote a product or service via their blog, social media platforms, business website, or any other online platform.

The Key Players in Affiliate Marketing

There are usually three players that serve a key role when it comes to affiliate marketing. These are:

  1. Affiliate Merchant
  2. Affiliate Marketer
  3. Consumer

1. Affiliate Merchant

Affiliate merchant (aka. the seller, vendor, creator, or retailer) is a person/company who creates or owns a product. These merchants rely on an affiliate program for selling their products. So, they look to bloggers or other site owners who are willing to join the affiliate marketing program and start promoting their product or service.

2. Affiliate Marketer

The term affiliate marketer relates to a person who sells someone else’s product or service and receives a commission. An affiliate marketer does this by promoting such a product on his/her website, blog, or social media account. Usually, affiliate marketers are content creators who have a size-able audience.

3. Consumer

No doubt, the consumer plays a key role in receiving an affiliate marketing income. Because without any sales, there won’t be a commission for the blogger/website owner. The affiliate marketer (site owner) will attempt to persuade their readers to purchase a product or service that might be a benefit to them.

How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?

How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?

After sharing some basic information about affiliate marketing, let’s take a look at how it works. To start, affiliate marketing success begins when an affiliate marketer selects a particular affiliate program and joins it.

The rest of the story involves the affiliate marketing strategies and digital marketing methods opted by an affiliate marketer for driving sales.

Here are the key steps associated with affiliate marketing.

1. Adding an Affiliate Link

The first and most important step after joining an affiliate marketing program is to include affiliate links within your blog’s content.

The affiliate program software will generate the affiliate link for you, that you can then add to your article’s content.

After you’ve created the affiliate link, save it, then copy and paste it where it works best within your content.

As the affiliate, you have free-reign to use the affiliate link at any location on your site.

A few of the most preferred online platforms to add affiliate links are:

  • Blogs
  • Business websites
  • Social media platforms

If you own a blog, a good practice is to place affiliate links in strategic locations throughout your content. When promoting on social media, you can create a sponsored post and add an affiliate link.

If you’re still new to the concept of blogging, we’ve created a detailed, step by step guide on how to start a blog in 2022.

2. Your Affiliate Link Receives a Click

Adding an affiliate link doesn’t automatically attract customers. For this purpose, you need engaging content to draw maximum visitors to your blog or website. These visitors are the prospective customers, who are likely to click on your affiliate link and buy a product/service.

The clicking of an affiliate link generates tracking cookies in the customer’s browser. These cookies allow merchants to know which affiliate has made a sale. However, these cookies stay in the browser for a limited period of time.

An affiliate marketer could only get a commission if the consumer buys an affiliate product before this time expires. Generally, cookies are available for a time ranging between 24 hours to 60 days.

3. Customer Redirected to the Merchant’s Website

Once clicked, the affiliate link will redirect the reader to the merchant’s website page where the affiliate product or service will have additional information, and is available for purchase.

4. The Purchase…

In some cases, customers may not buy the affiliate product right away, instead, they may wait to discuss it with their spouse, or do additional research to make a more informed decision. However, some customers have already made up their minds and eventually end up buying a product.

5. Keeping Sale’s Records

Once the customer buys an affiliate product, the affiliate tracking system saves the details of such a purchase. Initially, the system will analyze whether the affiliate marketer is eligible for the commission. An affiliate program works on a wide range of attribution models. This helps them to know which affiliate has made a sale.

The ‘Last-Click’ model is among the most common of all. According to this model, a recently clicked affiliate link would be considered a valid candidate for the commission. Besides, there is a ‘First-Click’ model too. Here, the first affiliate who manages to bring a customer to the merchant’s site is eligible for the commission.

7. Final Step: Receiving a Commission

Once the merchant verifies the sale made through your affiliate link, the commission is credited to your affiliate account. The amount earned depends on the percentage mentioned in the affiliate agreement. For instance, 10% commission means you would earn $10 if a customer buys an item worth $100.

If everything goes well, you will receive your commission. Most affiliate programs have a minimum payout threshold. Amazon affiliate program, for instance, has a $10 threshold. Besides, the payout duration varies based on the type of affiliate marketing platform you are using. Some programs pay you instantly while others might take 30 to 60 days.

Affiliate Marketing Programs

Affiliate Marketing Programs

Affiliate merchants take advantage of an affiliate marketing program to keep a record of sales and commissions. This program also helps them to draw the most out of their affiliate marketing strategy.

The arrangement or a contract between the merchant and affiliate is the foundation of every affiliate marketing program. Here, affiliate marketers and merchants finalize and agree to the terms of their working relationship. The most common working terms answer the following questions:

  • How affiliate marketers will promote an affiliate product or service?
  • Which sale qualifies for a commission?
  • What will be the percentage of commission?
  • How it will be paid?

The percentage of commission varies depending on the ability of an affiliate marketer to bring customers. If an affiliate has a huge audience, it’s possible for him/her to bring more business to the merchant. Affiliate marketers like these are capable of making huge sales and winning higher commissions.

Types of Affiliate Commissions

An affiliate marketing commission is the major incentive for any affiliate marketing program. The exact commission amount depends on the product that you are promoting and selling.

Listed below are the various types of commissions that an affiliate program might offer.

1. Cost-Per-Lead (CPL)

This type of commission is offered upon every lead that an affiliate marketer generates. For example, if your visitor enrolls in a free trial or subscribes to an email newsletter through an affiliated link posted in your content, this is considered a lead.

The CPL commission is relatively lower than a Cost-Per-Sale (CPS) program. However, this program serves as a Launchpad for your affiliate marketing career.

If you are planning to set up a new blog to generate a passive income for yourself, you should check out this blog post on how to make money blogging.

2. Cost-Per-Sale (CPS)

As the name suggests, Cost-Per-Sale (CPS) is a model where you earn a commission for each sale made through your affiliate link. It’s a widely used type of affiliate commission. While using the CPS model, make sure to choose products with higher sales value.

3. Recurring Commission

Recurring commission is an ongoing affiliate income offered to the affiliate marketer. Usually, it’s associated with a subscription product (software with a monthly subscription fee).

Here, the customer is billed upon renewal of a subscription and the affiliate marketers receive their commissions accordingly.

With this model, the affiliate marketer continues to earn income as long as the customers continue to pay for their subscriptions.

4. Cost-Per-Click (CPC)

This commission model pays you when someone clicks on one of your affiliate links and visits the merchant’s website. Meaning, the actual purchase of a product isn’t necessary to credit CPC commission.

Since clicks are relatively more frequent when compared to sales or leads, the commission is lower too. However, affiliate marketers are still generating a considerable amount of revenue through the CPC model. You just need to generate enough interest, which persuades the visitor to click on your affiliate link.

What Does it Take to Become an Affiliate Marketer?

If you want to become an affiliate marketer, just ask yourself whether you are a suitable candidate. For instance, a blogger with a decent audience does have a better chance with affiliate marketing. Even a blogger with a smaller audience can do well as a micro-influencer.

With an effective affiliate marketing strategy and some determination, you can manage to build yourself a strong foundation to become an affiliate marketer. Doing promotions, creating engaging content, and learning new skills will allow you to make a passive income with your blog.

So, for those who want to become an affiliate marketer, here are the steps to follow.

1. Choose a Niche

If you don’t have a blog or social media platform, you’ll need to start with a niche. After that, you can start building your platform by implementing relevant and engaging content. However, things are pretty simple if you are an influencer. You can easily sell niche-specific products to your followers.

People show an interest in reading your blogs articles if you talk about things they like to hear or read. For instance, you can’t sell tools to your female followers who are looking for some beauty tips. Rather, it would be a great idea to offer them popular beauty products.

This first step is crucial, so don’t be in a hurry determining your niche.

If you still need a little help finding the best niche for your blog, here’s my detailed guide on how to find your niche.

2. Join an Affiliate Marketing Program or Affiliate Networks

The next step is to join an affiliate program, or an affiliate network like Shareasale. You shouldn’t have much trouble finding a partner program that suits your niche. So, whether you’re interested in a travel or food blog, try to choose the most relevant affiliate program.

3. Find a Product

Once you’ve joined an affiliate network or program, it’s time to choose a product that you want to sell. Even if a product is relevant to your niche, this doesn’t mean it’s the right option for your blog. In fact, look for products that resonate with your visitors or followers.

Utilize all your resources to find the best products with respect to your niche as well as the interest of your audience. This way, you will be successful in presenting the most lucrative products to your visitors and generating sales.

4. Promote Products

When it comes to product promotion, blogging is the most effective way to sell products for a commission. Although, it does require some effort, at least there’s virtually no cost to you. You just need to create high-quality content to attract your audience.

In fact, longer blog posts are likely to generate 9 times more leads. So, you must consider putting in some extra effort and create informative blog posts. Apart from this, you need to provide affiliate links at the most suitable locations, within your content.

To generate more organic traffic, you’ll also need to do some SEO. In addition to regular keywords, you must also try to use some long-tail keywords. These types of specific keyword phrases can drive more traffic to your blog.

5. Start Making a Profit

After following all the steps mentioned above, you should now be able to expect some initial sales and profits. The affiliate marketing industry is a lucrative world with plenty of opportunities. The key is to stay focused, have patience and stay the course.

How to Be a Successful Affiliate Marketer

How to Be a Successful Affiliate Marketer

Now that you have an idea of what affiliate marketing is, the next step is to learn the tips for becoming a successful marketer. No doubt, there’s a lot of potential in affiliate marketing. However, you need to master the art of getting the best out of your affiliate marketing strategy.

The following are the key factors required for affiliate marketing success.

1. Know your Targeted Audience

One thing that will help with getting sales from your blog is knowing who your target audience is. You must have an understanding of whether your audience is interested in buying what you’re promoting.

You’ll wanna make sure you’re promoting the right product to the right audience, so doing research to get a better understanding of their pain points and possible problems they may be facing, will improve your chances of turning your visitors into buyers.

Doing this will also help you get targeted traffic, because you’ll be tailoring your content with your target audience in mind. You’ll write, in-depth content tailored to your target audience that will bring more traffic, and the right traffic, to your blog.

2. Select your Product Wisely

Most of the affiliate marketers who are just starting out are likely to make a common mistake. Usually, they are so enthusiastic that they try to sell anything and everything. This is the worst affiliate marketing strategy and should be avoided.

If a product doesn’t sell well, you won’t be able to generate considerable revenue. In addition, you would also have to generate more traffic to get sufficient sales. On the other hand, only pick products within your specific niche that have greater sales value.

Furthermore, a product paying a good commission can offer the best reward for your efforts and hard work as an affiliate marketer. In this way, you can earn a decent commission with every sale.

When it comes to profitability, a recurring commission is the best option. It also serves as a steady source of passive income.

3. Create Killer Content

If your goal is to earn a size-able passive income through affiliate marketing, make sure to create the best quality content. This will help you to bring organic traffic helping your visitors stay engaged for longer. As a result, the chances for your affiliate links to receive clicks have increased.

In addition, it’s also important to create skimmable, easy to read, content. Try to answer the questions of the readers and provide them with as much information as possible to solve their problem. Your tone should be friendly, engaging, and conversational, which is essential to keep your audience engaged. And, continue to provide the things that can add value to their lives.

Conclusion

Now that you’ve read the above material, you’ll have a better sense from your initial question, “What is affiliate marketing?”

It’s true that affiliate marketing appears to be basic and straight forward, but it does require marketing skills, knowledge, and patience to become a successful affiliate marketer.

As a result, it is highly recommended to learn the basic skills associated with affiliate marketing and continue to improve, with the goal of that your blog will grow with time.

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About the Author -

Blogging since 2010, John has found his true calling as TheBlogPilot. He's a serial entrepreneur and business owner, who's mission is to help ambitious individuals find financial freedom through blogging - to start, grow & build a sustainable, money-making blogging business!

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