Among various types of marketing we are hearing about every day, you may be wondering: what is affiliate marketing?

Presented as a great way to make money producing content and advertising, it’s certainly the path to success for many entrepreneurs. After all, passive income has been appealing to many after the publication of The 4-Hour Workweek.

In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about affiliate marketing. You’ll learn the most popular ways of earning through passive income, and how you can get started with it.

Let’s dive in!

What Is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is essentially promoting other people’s products.

Essentially, you’re like Google, and you’re getting paid to advertise products. However, you’re usually not getting paid per each click. In the most popular types of affiliate marketing relationships, you’re getting paid a commission when the end consumer takes a meaningful action (usually, buying the product).

On the other hand, if you’re creating your own products, you may look into affiliate marketing to promote them. The main appeal is that you’re paying CPA (cost per action/acquisition) so you’re not actively losing money if your advertising results in leads.

With affiliate marketing, you’re only paying if you’re getting sales. Similarly, if you’re promoting other people’s products as an affiliate, you’re only getting paid if you’re selling.

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Even though a lot of people wonder what affiliate marketing is, companies and businesses all over the world have seen the benefits of it:
  • 81% of brands use affiliate marketing (Source)
  • Affiliate marketing ROI in the UK is £15 profit: £1 spent (Source)
  • Amazon’s affiliates likely generated $10B out of Amazon’s $100B revenue (Source)
Affiliate marketing is cost-effective, simple, and can result in great profits. All by connecting product creators with affiliates, and helping the consumers find the right products for their needs.

There are big affiliate networks like Amazon Associates where affiliates are paid from 1-10% commission from each sale. This is a great option if you want to sell products where the profit margin is high (e.g. technology), and Amazon Associates has one of the highest affiliate network commissions today.

How Can I Become an Affiliate?

The main thing is having reach. This means you have to have access to enough people to be able to sell successfully.

While some affiliates use paid marketing and advertising methods, affiliate marketing is really cost-effective if you already have your own platform of influence.

That’s why affiliates today include people and businesses such as:
  • Bloggers
  • Influencers
  • Website owners
  • Microsites/niche sites
  • Email list owners
So the next time you see an Instagram influencer promoting a product, pay attention to the link they direct you to. Chances are, it’s tracked with UTM and they’ll be earning a commission from the purchase you make with their link.

Similarly, bloggers and website owners can earn as affiliates if they promote products related to their website. This is especially true if they’re serving a specific audience.

And speaking of a specific audience, another great way to earn as an affiliate is by creating microsites that are essentially focused landing pages connected to paid search ad campaigns. They don’t necessarily have to be connected to your main site, and they can be structured as landing pages with a central CTA (call-to-action).

Microsites can be especially lucrative in affiliate marketing when they’re serving a niche that can be advertised to through less competitive keywords.

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Finally, email lists are one of the most reliable channels for affiliate marketing. This can mean being a content creator yourself with a newsletter that you’d like to monetize. You can find products relevant to your audience to advertise and earn a commission through each sale.

The oldest (and the traditional) type of affiliate marketing channels have been review websites and blogs. Chances are, you’ve stumbled upon an affiliate marketing site like This Is Why I’m Broke without knowing it’s earning from affiliate marketing.

As an affiliate, you can work through an affiliate network or independently. However, it’s safer to work through an affiliate network as it provides transparent tracking, ensuring that you won’t be at a payment risk.

That’s Great! How Can I Become an Affiliate?

The first step to becoming an affiliate marketer is developing a platform of influence that caters to a specific niche.

A good idea is starting by reviewing products in your niche and differentiating yourself from other content creators. For this you can create a blog, website, or a YouTube channel, and use social media and SEO for distributing your content.

Alternatively, you can also make a budget for paid search campaigns and microsites. This doesn’t require you to organically grow your audience.

The second step is creating content.

You’ll need a lot of traffic to be a successful affiliate, and it’s always good to reduce your start-up costs as much as possible. This is possible with content and content marketing.

Additionally, using some of these low cost methods of content promotion can help you get results much faster.

For example, you can create blog posts and distribute them using search engine optimization (SEO). SEO gives long-term results once you start ranking on SERPs, so you’ll be getting a lot of traffic for no cost at all.

You should also create an email list. Even though SEO is more reliable than social media, email lists mean you get and keep contact info. People check their inboxes more, as well, and email marketing’s ROI is 40$ for each 1$, meaning it’s a great and low-cost method to improve your affiliate earnings.

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For a quick traffic boost, consider investing into PPC campaigns like the ones with Google Ads or Bing Ads. This is where a specific audience really comes in hand, as your bids will be more affordable.

Conversely, if you want to promote your products with affiliate marketing, it’s best to join an affiliate network, but make sure you understand the rules of each network.

If you’d rather fly solo, you can also great your own network by partnering up with influencers and bloggers popular in your niche and offering them a cut from your profits.

But no matter which side of the equation you find yourself on, remember that consumers value transparency.

If you’re an affiliate creating content, make sure you mention it. And if you’re paying an affiliate to promote your products, ask them to place a disclaimer.

After all, marketing is all about helping consumers get value in the right place at the right time. Affiliate marketing just makes it easier to earn more while doing it.