What is Affiliate Marketing and How to get started- Ultimate Guide

What is affiliate marketing? If you don’t know anything about it. Don’t worry, I will tell you everything about it in this post on what is affiliate marketing.

We are in no hurry today, I suppose. If you are then I will advise you to read this full guide when you have time to invest in yourself. As this guide will tell you exactly how to start affiliate marketing right way and fulfill your money dreams.

Passive income is very often defined as earn while sleeping. Affiliate marketing is one such method to earn passive income online. It is simple if you do it the right way. Always remember the difference between hard work and smart work.

Here we go.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is the practice of recommending a companies products or services to potential customers, generating a sale and earning a commission in return.


Its based on revenue sharing. You sell and promote others products using your online resources like the Facebook page, a blog, a YouTube channel or your affiliate network and the company for which you made the sale pays you certain commission which is generally in between 8-14 %.

This percentage might look insignificant to you but think about the commission you get when you sell an apple laptop for the merchant company.

It’s awesome, you sell products without even investing in their manufacturing.

You just need to promote somebody else’s products and collect your commission if you can make sales out of your promotion for the merchant or advertiser company.

Let me tell you one truth, every online passive income method requires online audience which you called traffic, let it be a blog or Facebook page, a YouTube channel or anything else and this truth makes affiliate marketing “not so easy”.

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Don’t feel disappointed, once you have an online platform where you get regular visitors, affiliate marketing can do wonders for you.

Now we are clear with the basic definition of affiliate marketing. So let’s see how exactly affiliate marketing works in the real world.



The process of affiliate marketing generally involves four parties: the advertiser or product creator often called the merchant, the affiliate network, the affiliate or publisher and the buyer.

Like when you join an affiliate program through commission junction, the process involves four parties where commission junction serves as the affiliate network. We will talk about affiliate networks later in this post.

Sometimes the process may only involve three parties –  the merchant, the affiliate, and the buyer.

affiliate marketing

source: cj

This is the case when you join Amazon’s affiliate program. Here there is no affiliate network. A direct deal between the merchant Amazon and the affiliate.

Let us look at each party involved in a successful affiliate program.


1. The merchant or advertiser

The merchant behind an affiliate program is the one who actually decides to start an affiliate program. So this party is called the product creator and seller. Let me give you one example.

Amazon sells stuff online and in order to increase sells Amazon decides to start an affiliate program called Amazon associates. So here, behind the Amazon Associates affiliate program, Amazon is the merchant and the boss.

amazon associates affiliate website

I too can be a merchant behind an affiliate program. The minimum requirement is to have a product to sell.

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2. The Affiliate or the Publisher

An Affiliate is a person who promotes other’s product to make sales for them and earn commission for himself. The work of an affiliate is to make sales for the merchant site. Their work is simple just place affiliate links and banners on their website or Facebook Page or YouTube channel and enjoys the sales.

The website which an affiliate owns is an affiliate website An affiliate marketing business can produce a few hundred dollars in commissions each month or tens of millions of dollars.

Again I will give you an example of myself.

I am running this blog called dollarsway.com. I am producing a lot of quality content regularly. You, my readers, are reading it and you find that I am writing more and more about blogging that means I am expert when it comes to blogging (just an example). So most probably you would consider my bits of advice when it comes to blogging. Don’t you? And now I can use my this position to make money using affiliate marketing.

I just need to join an affiliate program related to blogging like SemRush(Paid SEO tool for bloggers) affiliate program and promote their products on my site and make sales out of it.

If any of my readers would buy their products by clicking the links and banners on my site, I will get paid some commission.

So here we get some key components required for you to become a successful affiliate.

  1. You should have people who listen to you
  2. You should promote only products related to your niche or business

I would soon be telling you How and where you can join some affiliate programs.


3. The buyer or the consumer

A typical buyer is the most important party involved in an affiliate program. These are the people who buy merchant’s products from the publisher’s affiliate link and banners.

For me, if you buy Semrush tool using my link, you are a buyer or consumer.

The affiliate will try to market to the consumer on whatever channel they see fit, whether that’s a social network, digital billboards or through a search engine using content marketing on a blog.

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4. The affiliate network

An affiliate network can be reffered to as a website that offers affiliate programs to join started by many different companies all at one place.

The affiliate network is not just like an affiliate program store from where you can get any affiliate program to join. But It has a lot more to do. Affiliate networks often work as an intermediary between the merchant and the publisher. These networks make things simplified for both merchant company and publishers like me.

The affiliate network provides us with links and banners.

The affiliate network drops a tracking cookie into the buyer’s browser when they visit an advertisers website as a result of clicking an affiliate link on the affiliate’s website. They are effectively the glue which makes affiliate marketing possible, and they’re the guys who send your payment to you.

Example of some affiliate networks is Clickbank, CJ etc.

When an affiliate joins any company’s affiliate program through an affiliate network, the commission gets reduced as the affiliate network is also cutting out their commissions for joining you. But when there is a direct deal between the merchant and the publisher, The commission rate is pretty impressive and high as in the case of Amazon associates. They pay a commission rate of 14%. That’s nice when compared to others.

If you are not yet clear with affiliate marketing equation, just give a look at the photo below by moreniche.

affiliate marketing guide

source: moreniche

After dealing with the definition and working of affiliate marketing. let us encounter some common terminologies related with the affiliate marketing that can prove handy for you while learning affiliate marketing. You can take it as a revision.

  1. Affiliates are the publishers who use affiliate links to promote and make sales for the advertiser.
  2. Affiliate marketplace There are many marketplaces like Shareasale, CJ, and Clickbank. These work as central databases for affiliate programs in different niches. Thses are often called affiliate networks.
  3. Affiliate software these are software used by advertisers to make affiliate programs for their products.
  4. Affiliate link the special tracking link offered to affiliate websites for tracking the sales and activities through the website.
  5. Affiliate ID  Similar to the affiliate link, but many affiliate programs offer a unique ID which you can add to any page of the product site.
  6. Commission amount this is the amount of commission you will get for every sell through your link. It is mostly between 7-15 percent.
  7. 2- tier affiliate marketing This is a great way of making money from an affiliate program. With this method, you recommend that others join affiliate programs, and you receive a commission when a sub-affiliate makes a sale (similar to MLM or multi-level marketing). This income is also known as a sub-affiliate commission.
  8. link clocking most affiliate links are vast and ugly by using the link clocking method you can shorten the affiliate links and customize them according to need.

A word about cookies?

Suppose you are a publisher and someone clicked your affiliate link from your website and he lands to the merchant website. But it’s not necessary that he is gonna buy products as soon as he lands on the merchant website. he can just look at their services and products and close the tab. Thinking he will buy it tomorrow or in the evening whatever.

Will you get paid now? He has closed the tab opened from your link. And now he is gonna buy products by directly going to the merchant website.

Here come cookies in the role, as soon as someone clicks your affiliate link, the affiliate network drops a tracking cookie in the user’s browser. Now according to the cookie period given by your affiliate network, any sale that would be made on the merchant’s website through that browser in coming days would be considered an affiliate sale made by you.

In case you’re wondering, there are a couple of ways these cookies can and will disappear:

  1. If the buyer clears the cookies in their browser, either manually or using a tool such as CCleaner.
  2. If the cookie expires. Most affiliate networks work with a 30-day cookie period as standard.

The Affiliate Programs and Networks to Join in 2018

By now you’re probably itching to get started with affiliate marketing, but don’t know where to begin. Let me help you with that.

Many online companies who sell products such as shoes, web-hosting spaces, or some other service, usually offer an affiliate program. You can simply sign up for the program and get your unique tracking link. Now, whenever you are writing about their product, you can simply use this special tracking affiliate link to recommend the company’s site.

If your readers buy anything after clicking your affiliate link from the merchant site, you will get a commission.

Not every affiliate program is the same and not all affiliate networks. They may differ in the cookie period they offer, some offers a 60 day cookie period and others might offer a lifetime cookie period. which means that if a visitor uses your special affiliate link to land on the sales page of the site and buys something within the next 60 days, you will be entitled to the sale’s commission.


The top affiliate websites in 2018

You have made up your mind to become an affiliate and earn smart passive income. That’s cool but before you go on and join an affiliate program through an affiliate network. You need to see our exclusive list of top affiliate networks in 2018.

  1. ShareASale
  2. ClickBank
  3. CJ Affiliate
  4. GiddyUp
  5. Rakuten
  6. Affiliate Partners LTD.
  7. Commission Factory
  8. Amazon Associates
  9. AvantLink
  10. eBay Partner Network

RELATED: Top Ptc sites in 2018


Affiliate marketing is the reason behind the handsome salaries of bloggers like me and you.

For you to become an affiliate, it is required for you to have some considerable number of people who listen to you. They can be your Youtube channel subscribers, Blog subscribers, Blog readers, Facebook Page members or your twitter followers. Whatever, You need an audience.

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Once you have that, you are all set to make money with affiliate marketing.

The best platform to do affiliate marketing is a Blog.

If you already having an audience and a platform, you can use my list above for join some affiliate program related to your niche.

I suppose this guide was ok. If it was then don’t mind sharing it with friends and do comment down your thoughts.

In the meantime you can like to read:

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Hello, This is Mohit Paliwal- Fountain-head of dollarsway.com. I am a digital marketer and an SEO. I like to create blogs, rank them high on google and make money from them. I like to write on SEO and Blogging. Subscribe to my mailing list and get to read my content as soon as I publish.
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One comment

  • Devan paliwal says:

    Nice post, this is the best post i can get on internet on affiliate marketing. Keep it up mohit.

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