How Does Affiliate Marketing Really Work?

Drag to rearrange sections
Rich Text Content

Although money can’t buy happiness, most people use at least a little bit of it to make things easier. To help acquire that ‘little bit’ there are many ways to generate passive income. One of the ways is affiliate marketing.

With all the hype, and the number of success stories tied to affiliate marketing, folks are still asking one question…uh, does affiliate marketing really work? Seems like an easy question, considering affiliate marketing is a multi-billion dollar industry. This means that individuals and companies make money with it.

Of course, affiliate marketing actually works, so you can earn a living as an affiliate marketer. But there is more to this than meets the eye.

What Is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is an internet-based opportunity where you (the affiliate) earn a commission for referring customers or sales to another business.

Affiliates promote products or services in an attempt to win potential clients by showing the value of a retailer’s product or service. It might even be an entire site dedicated to finding impressive affiliate products to promote.

Keep in mind that affiliate marketing is not a get-rich-quick scheme. In reality, affiliate marketing is performance-based. For this reason, advertisers only pay when promoters (affiliates) excite an indicated customer action—typically an online purchase.

Undoubtedly, you can make pretty good money after months or even years’ worth of sweat where you’ lock-in zero earnings. However, over the years, affiliate marketing has changed. Back in the day, an affiliate with a simple understanding of keywords and how web browsers work could make a fortune.

Nowadays, things have changed, for affiliates to make a decent income they have to focus on the goods and services they provide. All thanks to Google and other browsers for creating better search engines that separate the wheat from the chaff.

There are a few categories into which affiliates can more easily fit. These modern-day categories are: new affiliates, established affiliates, partnered affiliates, and affiliated companies.

a.  New Affiliates

This is probably the toughest division to be in, especially if you are starting from the ground up. Being new to the industry is no walk in the park; it’s decidedly challenging. The good thing: it won’t take you long to find out how to earn, or not.

It involves building a good website, finding a niche, a lot of keyword researching, creating superior content, and establishing authority.

The few who earn immediately do several things right. For example, identifying an evergreen niche, picking low competition keywords, creating a site for the niche, churning out superior content, and advertising.

b.  Established Affiliates

Established affiliates are time-honored individuals. These folks understand the ins and outs of making money online. To become a seasoned affiliate takes years of effort; understanding of the internet and various advertising techniques.

The majority of people in this category understand backlinks, website development, SEO, and SEM. They can also identify profitable keywords and understand the power of social media.

c.  Partnered Affiliates

These are businesses that provide services of their own and link up with other corporations in the same niche. Afterward, they offer related services as their own. This partnership is transcendent since it lets both companies capitalize and grow from mutual collaboration.

As a partner, you are expected to offer a similar service to the affiliating company. Moreover, you need to provide a valuable service to the companies’ customers.

How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?

Unlike other opportunities online, affiliate marketing is a proven way to earn money. All it takes is the passion, time, and relentless effort to get there. The truth of the matter is, anybody can make it in affiliate marketing and earn big from it. However, the chances for success, to a greater extent, depend on your abilities and personality.  

With affiliate marketing, you generally need a website. Don’t have one? No worries, there are numerous ways to conduct affiliate marketing; a number of them don’t need a website.

Nevertheless, most affiliates prefer to run their own website because it offers great potential to build brands and grow an affiliate strategy. A personal site is like owning digital real estate, so to say; with the right approach, will benefit you for years to come.

Affiliate marketing occurs in 3 easy steps. It starts with you recommending a service or product to your fans. Next, let your fans buy the service or product through your affiliate link. Then, you earn a commission on sales made via your affiliate link.

First things first, before you start promoting products and services, take time to work through these steps:

1st.  Find Your Niche

Choose a niche that you are passionate about.  This will make it much easier for you to create content. If possible, pick a niche that’s big enough; otherwise, you’ll struggle to find topics to write about. Narrow niches have less potential to build audiences, besides you will find it challenging to create numerous blog posts. Other factors to consider include saturation and the lucrativeness of the niche.

2nd. Build a Website

After deciding on a lucrative niche, you are ready to create a blog or website.  Assuming you’ll be creating a blog, there are a few pages you may want to include. Such pages include a privacy policy, disclaimer, about, contact, terms of service, advertise, and custom 404. As a rule of thumb, your policies should be clear and easily understood in order to build trust with your audience and avoid confusion.

3rd.  Create Quality Content

Once the framework of your page is ready, start creating content. Quite a few affiliate programs and affiliate networks require you to have relevant content already. As well, a certain number of monthly views and site traffic before they accept you as an affiliate. For this reason, read through the preconditions for particular programs and networks you’re considering before applying.

4th. Grow Your Subscriber List

Keep in mind that your email is the number one channel of communication and marketing. Plus, it carries an undeniably wild return. And, thank God, there are many stress-free ways to grow your email list. A good example is placing a popup to your website.

5th. Select Products to Promote

As a general rule, choose products and services that complement your niche and resonate well with your content. Create a list of all services and products you would like to promote and search Google to locate their affiliate programs.

Ideally, promote products you love or already use; more likely than not, an affiliate program exists for these. Note: Only recommend products your audience is interested in and would like to try.

6th.  Join an Online Marketplace

Online marketplaces are fundamentally affiliate marketing networks where stores list their products, so affiliates can locate them to promote their products. Among the most popular affiliate networks include Amazon Associates, Click Bank, CJ Affiliate, and ShareaSale.

7th. Track Your Results

Tracking the performance of affiliate products (affiliate links) on your website can help you understand how different products perform with your audience. This information will help you furnish them with better merchandise in the future. Moreover, you will be able to create better content, thus growing their loyalty and trust, consequently attracting them to you over and over again.

Industries Where Affiliate Marketing Tactics Are Popular

Gaming Industry

The gambling industry, since its foundation, has found innovative strategies to take advantage of tech advances‒including affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing in this industry often works through a referral scheme, in which bettors can sign up other people. Inducements can include free spins and cashback. According to Adrian Sireca from Online Casino Gems, “the online gaming industry, like this casino website, is one of the robust sectors using affiliate marketing techniques. This is one reason, in countries where gambling is allowed, revenue from the betting industry has been rising sharply.”

 In the US, for example, the gambling industry is worth $261 billion and supports 1.8 million jobs in 40 states, the American Gambling Association indicates.

Dating Industry

Dating sites comprise an outsized niche with a dedicated following, allowing affiliates (dating site owners) to benefit from marketing. Dating is a very profitable industry that regularly incorporates affiliate marketing. No wonder it is a whopping $3 billion industry in the US alone.

Cashback Websites

Cashback websites are among the most substantial publisher types. Different tactics are used depending on the business in question, but all include referral systems.

A typical example is where a buyer recommends the site to a friend who signs up, and they can end up earning a commission for doing that. In recent years, reward and loyalty sites have been focusing on improving their affiliate marketing services. For instance, many of them center on key demographics, which has led to a boost in revenue.


Affiliate marketing is a valuable tool smart businesses use to generate more revenue and expand. But how do you get a share of this revenue when you have no products of your own? Simple. Promote a valuable product or service and earn from it as an affiliate marketer.

Affiliate marketing remains among the most popular ways to make money, and for you, it can be a passive income. Even so, keep in mind that affiliate marketing is an ever-evolving model for making money. If you understand and follow these guidelines, and keep an eye on what successful affiliates do, you will thrive.

Drag to rearrange sections
Rich Text Content

Page Comments