What Is Affiliate Marketing? A 2023 Beginner's Guide To Getting Started

What is affiliate marketing?


Affiliate marketing is a performance-based marketing model in which affiliates are rewarded for promoting the products or services of a company. Affiliates are typically individuals or organizations that have a website, blog, or other online presence, and they earn a commission for each sale or lead that they generate for the company.

In affiliate marketing, affiliates typically promote the products or services of a company through a unique link or banner ad that is placed on their website. When a visitor clicks on this link and makes a purchase, the affiliate earns a commission on the sale. The company pays the affiliate a pre-determined percentage of the sale price as a commission.

There are many different types of affiliate programs, and affiliates can promote a wide range of products and services, including physical products, digital products, and services. Affiliate marketing can be an effective way for companies to reach new customers, and it can be a lucrative way for affiliates to earn money by promoting products and services that align with their interests and expertise.


What Is Affiliate Marketing? A 2023 Beginner's Guide To Getting Started



Types of Affiliate Marketing

There are different types of affiliate marketing, and it can sometimes be unclear whether an affiliate marketer has personally tried the product they are promoting or if they are simply motivated by the potential earnings. However, in certain cases, such as with diet services or skin care products, customers may be more likely to trust an affiliate if they know that the affiliate has tested and approved the product. In 2009, affiliate marketer Pat Flynn classified affiliate marketing into three categories: unattached, related, and involved. These categories can help differentiate between affiliates who have a strong connection to the product versus those who do not.

Unattached affiliates

Unattached affiliates do not have any connection to the product or service they are promoting. They do not have expertise or authority in the niche of the product and cannot make claims about its use. These affiliates often use pay-per-click (PPC) marketing campaigns and include an affiliate link in the hopes that shoppers will click it and make a purchase on their own. Unattached affiliate marketing can be appealing due to its lack of commitment, but it is generally for those who want to generate income without investing in the product or customer relationship.

Related affiliates

Related affiliates are a middle ground between unattached and involved affiliates. They do not necessarily use the product or service, but they are somehow related to the niche audience. These affiliates often have some level of influence in the niche and an established following, and they can offer some authority on the product or service. For example, an affiliate who promotes a clothing brand they have never used before but has a fashion blog or YouTube channel with an audience could be considered a related affiliate marketer. The advantage of this type of affiliate marketing is that the affiliate has the expertise to drive traffic, but they may risk recommending a poor product or service if they have not tried it themselves, potentially losing the trust of their audience.

Involved affiliates

Involved affiliates have a strong connection to the product or service they are promoting and often use it themselves. They have expertise or authority in the niche of the product and can make claims about its use. Involved affiliates are often passionate about the product or service and have a personal stake in its success. They may be more likely to build a long-term relationship with their audience and provide value beyond just promoting the product or service.

It is important to consider which type of affiliate marketing is the best fit for you and your audience. Unattached affiliate marketing may be an easy way to generate income, but it may not be as effective in building trust and long-term relationships with customers. Related affiliate marketing can offer some authority, but it may be riskier if the affiliate has not personally tried the product or service. Involved affiliate marketing can be more effective in building trust and long-term relationships, but it may require more time and effort to establish expertise and authority in the niche.


How Do Affiliate Marketers Get Paid


Affiliate marketing is a popular and easy way to earn money online without the hassle of selling a product directly. However, the process of how an affiliate gets paid after connecting a seller to a consumer can be complex. The consumer does not always have to purchase the product for the affiliate to receive a commission. The terms of the affiliate program will determine how the affiliate's contribution to the seller's sales is measured. There are various ways in which an affiliate can be paid, including:

  1. Pay-per-sale (PPS): In a pay-per-sale program, affiliates earn a commission for each sale that they generate for the company. This type of program is often used for physical products, such as books or electronics.
  2. Pay-per-click (PPC): In a pay-per-click program, affiliates earn a commission for each visitor that they send to the company's website and click on a link or banner ad. This type of program is often used for digital products, such as software or ebooks.
  3. Pay-per-lead (PPL): In a pay-per-lead program, affiliates earn a commission for each lead that they generate for the company. A lead is typically defined as a user who fills out a form or signs up for a newsletter, for example. This type of program is often used for services, such as insurance or credit cards.
  4. Pay-per-impression (PPI): In a pay-per-impression program, affiliates earn a commission each time a banner ad or other promotional material is displayed on their website. This type of program is less common than other types of affiliate programs.
  5. Hybrid programs: Some affiliate programs use a combination of different payment models, such as PPS and PPL. Hybrid programs can offer affiliates the opportunity to earn multiple types of commissions for different types of actions.



Advantages of affiliate marketing

There are several advantages to affiliate marketing:

  1. Cost-effective: Affiliate marketing can be a cost-effective way for companies to reach new customers, as they only pay affiliates for actual sales or leads generated. This means that the company does not have to pay for advertising or other marketing efforts upfront, but only pays for results.
  2. Wide reach: Affiliate marketing can help a company reach a wide audience, as affiliates can promote the company's products or services to their own followers and subscribers. This can help the company reach a larger audience than it could through its own marketing efforts alone.
  3. Performance-based: Affiliate marketing is a performance-based model, which means that affiliates are only paid for actual sales or leads generated. This motivates affiliates to promote the company's products or services effectively, as they have a financial incentive to do so.
  4. Low risk: Affiliate marketing carries a relatively low risk for companies, as they only pay affiliates for actual sales or leads generated. This means that the company does not have to invest in advertising or other marketing efforts upfront, and can easily adjust its strategy based on the results of the affiliate program.
  5. Flexibility: Affiliate marketing allows affiliates to choose the products or services they want to promote, which can be a flexible and convenient way to earn money. Affiliates can choose products or services that align with their interests and expertise and can promote them in a way that is authentic and engaging.
  6. Passive income: Affiliate marketing can provide a source of passive income for affiliates, as they can continue to earn commissions from sales or leads generated long after the initial promotion.
  7. Diversification: Affiliates can promote a variety of products or services from different companies, which can help to diversify their income streams.
  8. No inventory: Affiliates do not need to manage inventory or handle fulfillment, as these tasks are typically handled by the company whose products or services they are promoting.
  9. No customer service: Affiliates do not need to handle customer service inquiries or issues, as these are typically handled by the company whose products or services they are promoting.
  10. Low barrier to entry: It is relatively easy for individuals or organizations to become affiliates, as most affiliate programs have low barriers to entry and do not require any upfront investment. This can make affiliate marketing a viable option for those who are just starting out in an online business or who have limited resources.


Disadvantages of affiliate marketing

Here are some potential disadvantages of affiliate marketing:

  1. Competition: Affiliate marketing can be competitive, as affiliates are competing with each other to promote the same products or services. This can make it difficult for affiliates to stand out and generate sales or leads.
  2. Commission-based: Affiliate marketing is a commission-based model, which means that affiliates only earn money when they generate a sale or lead. This can make it difficult for affiliates to predict their income and can lead to fluctuating earnings.
  3. Dependence on third parties: Affiliates are dependent on the company whose products or services they are promoting for their income. This means that affiliates have no control over the product or service itself, the pricing, or the customer experience.
  4. Changes in terms and conditions: Companies can change their affiliate terms and conditions at any time, which can impact an affiliate's income or the way they can promote the products or services.
  5. Tracking and reporting: Tracking and reporting can be complex in affiliate marketing, as affiliates need to accurately track and report their sales or lead to be paid. This can require the use of specialized tracking software and can be time-consuming for affiliates.

How to get started with affiliate marketing


Here are some steps you can follow to get started with affiliate marketing:

  1. Choose a niche: Choose a niche or area of focus for your affiliate marketing efforts. This could be a specific product category, such as health and wellness, or a specific topic, such as personal finance.
  2. Find affiliate programs: Search for affiliate programs in your chosen niche or industry. You can find affiliate programs through online marketplaces, such as Commission Junction or ShareASale, or through individual companies' websites.
  3. Apply to affiliate programs: Once you have identified potential affiliate programs, apply to join their affiliate program. Each program will have its own application process, which may include providing information about your website or online presence and demonstrating your alignment with the company's values and target audience.
  4. Promote products or services: Once you have been approved for an affiliate program, you can start promoting the company's products or services on your website or social media channels. Use unique tracking links or banner ads provided by the company to track your sales or leads.
  5. Monitor your results: Monitor your results and track your sales or leads to see how your promotions are performing. You can use this information to optimize your promotions and improve your results over time.

Tips for success in affiliate marketing

Here are some additional tips for success in affiliate marketing:

  • Choose high-quality products or services: It is essential to choose products or services that you believe in and that are high-quality, as this will help you to promote them effectively and build trust with your audience.
  • Create valuable content: In addition to promoting products or services, it is important to create valuable content that addresses the needs and interests of your target audience. This can help to establish your credibility and build a loyal following.
  • Use social media: Social media platforms can be a powerful tool for promoting affiliate products or services. Use social media to share your content, engage with your audience, and promote your affiliate links.
  • Test different promotions: Try out different promotions and see what works best for your audience. This may involve experimenting with different types of content, such as blog posts, videos, or social media posts, or testing different kinds of offers or incentives.
  • Stay up-to-date: Keep up with industry trends and updates in the affiliate marketing space. This can help you to stay ahead of the competition and ensure that your promotions are relevant and effective.


The best affiliate programs criteria to follow

There are many affiliate programs available, and the best program for you will depend on your niche and target audience. Here are a few tips for finding the best affiliate programs:

  • Look for reputable companies: It is important to choose affiliate programs from reputable companies, as this will help you to build trust with your audience and ensure that you are promoting high-quality products or services.
  • Consider the commission structure: Consider the commission structure of the affiliate program, as well as the terms and conditions. Some programs offer higher commissions or a greater variety of products or services to promote, while others may have more restrictive terms.
  • Check the tracking and reporting: Ensure that the affiliate program offers reliable tracking and reporting, as this will be essential for accurately tracking your sales and leads.
  • Look for support and resources: Consider whether the affiliate program offers support and resources, such as marketing materials, training, or access to customer service, to help you promote their products or services effectively.
  • Consider the fit with your audience: Choose affiliate programs that align with the interests and needs of your target audience, as this will help you to effectively promote the products or services and build trust with your audience.
  • Research the company: Research the company and its products or services to ensure that they are reputable and of high quality. Look for customer reviews or testimonials to get a sense of the company's reputation and the effectiveness of its products or services.
  • Consider the conversion rate: Consider the conversion rate of the affiliate program, which is the percentage of visitors that make a purchase or generate a lead. A higher conversion rate can mean more revenue for you as an affiliate.
  • Look for flexibility: Consider whether the affiliate program offers flexibility in terms of the types of products or services you can promote, as well as the methods you can use to promote them. This can give you more opportunities to find the right fit for your audience.
  • Check for exclusivity: Some affiliate programs may require exclusivity, which means that you can only promote their products or services and not those of other companies. Consider whether this is a good fit for your business model.
  • Consider the payout schedule: Look at the payout schedule of the affiliate program to see how often you will receive commissions and whether the schedule is convenient for you. Some programs may offer more frequent payouts, while others may have longer intervals between payouts.


Marketplaces for finding affiliate programs

Here is a list of popular online marketplaces for finding affiliate programs:

  1. Commission Junction
  2. ShareASale
  3. Amazon Associates
  4. Rakuten Advertising
  5. AvantLink
  6. FlexOffers
  7. Partnerize
  8. Affiliate Window
  9. ClickBank

This list is not exhaustive, and there are many other online marketplaces that you can use to find affiliate programs. It is a good idea to research and compare different marketplaces to find the best fit for your needs and preferences.


  1. Commission Junction: Commission Junction is an online marketplace that connects affiliates with a wide range of products and services from different companies. It offers a variety of tools and resources to help affiliates track and report their sales and leads, and it has a large selection of products and services in a range of industries.
  2. ShareASale: ShareASale is an online marketplace that connects affiliates with products and services from different companies. It offers a variety of tools and resources to help affiliates promote products and track their results, and it has a large selection of products and services in a range of industries.
  3. Amazon Associates: Amazon Associates is the affiliate program of Amazon, one of the largest online retailers in the world. It allows affiliates to promote a wide range of products on Amazon and earn a commission on sales.
  4. Rakuten Advertising: Rakuten Advertising is an online marketplace that connects affiliates with products and services from different companies. It offers a variety of tools and resources to help affiliates promote products and track their results, and it has a large selection of products and services in a range of industries.
  5. AvantLink is an online marketplace that connects affiliates with products and services from different companies. It offers a variety of tools and resources to help affiliates promote products and track their results, and it has a large selection of products and services in a range of industries. AvantLink provides affiliates with access to a range of promotional materials, such as banners, text links, and product feeds, to help them promote products effectively. It also offers advanced tracking and reporting capabilities to help affiliates track their sales and leads. AvantLink has a strong focus on the outdoor, sporting goods, and travel industries, and it offers a variety of products and services in these areas. However, it also has a range of products and services in other industries, such as home and garden, fashion, and health and wellness.
  6. FlexOffers: FlexOffers is an online marketplace that connects affiliates with a wide range of products and services from different companies. It offers a variety of tools and resources to help affiliates track and report their sales and leads, and it has a large selection of products and services in a range of industries.
  7. Partnerize: Partnerize is an online marketplace that connects affiliates with products and services from different companies. It offers a variety of tools and resources to help affiliates promote products and track their results, and it has a large selection of products and services in a range of industries.
  8. Affiliate Window: Affiliate Window is an online marketplace that connects affiliates with a wide range of products and services from different companies. It offers a variety of tools and resources to help affiliates track and report their sales and leads, and it has a large selection of products and services in a range of industries.
  9. ClickBank: ClickBank is an online marketplace that connects affiliates with digital products and services from different companies. It offers a variety of tools and resources to help affiliates promote products and track their results, and it has a large selection of digital products in a range of industries.



Tips for success in affiliate marketing

Here are some tips for success in affiliate marketing:

  1. Choose high-quality products or services: It is essential to choose products or services that you believe in and that are high-quality, as this will help you to promote them effectively and build trust with your audience.
  2. Create valuable content: In addition to promoting products or services, it is important to create valuable content that addresses the needs and interests of your target audience. This can help to establish your credibility and build a loyal following.
  3. Use social media: Social media platforms can be a powerful tool for promoting affiliate products or services. Use social media to share your content, engage with your audience, and promote your affiliate links.
  4. Test different promotions: Try out different promotions and see what works best for your audience. This may involve experimenting with different types of content, such as blog posts, videos, or social media posts, or testing different kinds of offers or incentives.
  5. Stay up-to-date: Keep up with industry trends and updates in the affiliate marketing space. This can help you to stay ahead of the competition and ensure that your promotions are relevant and effective.
  6. Choose the right affiliate programs: It is important to choose affiliate programs that align with your niche and target audience, as well as offer high-quality products or services and a favorable commission structure.
  7. Use multiple platforms: Consider using multiple platforms, such as your website, social media, and email, to promote affiliate products or services. This can help you to reach a wider audience and increase your chances of success.
  8. Optimize your website: Make sure that your website is optimized for search engines and provides a good user experience. This can help to improve your visibility and increase the likelihood of conversions.
  9. Use tracking and reporting tools: Use tracking and reporting tools to monitor your performance and optimize your promotions. This can help you to identify what is working well and what can be improved.
  10. Engage with your audience: Engage with your audience and respond to comments and questions. This can help to build trust and establish you as a thought leader in your niche.



Why people become affiliate marketers

There are several reasons why people become affiliate marketers:

  1. Flexibility: Affiliate marketing allows you to work from anywhere and on your own schedule. You can choose your own niche and work as much or as little as you want.
  2. Passive income: Affiliate marketing can provide a passive income stream. Once you have set up your affiliate marketing efforts, you can continue to earn commissions on sales or leads even while you are not actively working.
  3. Low start-up costs: Affiliate marketing requires minimal start-up costs compared to other business models. All you need is a website or online presence and a willingness to learn and promote products or services.
  4. Wide range of products and services: There is a wide range of products and services available through affiliate programs, so you can choose to promote something that aligns with your interests or expertise.
  5. No inventory or fulfillment: As an affiliate, you do not need to worry about inventory or fulfillment, as these tasks are handled by the company whose products or services you are promoting.
  6. Opportunity for growth: With the right strategies and effort, you can grow your affiliate marketing business and increase your income over time.



In conclusion, affiliate marketing is a business model that allows individuals or businesses to earn a commission by promoting the products or services of other companies. It can provide flexibility, passive income, low start-up costs, and the opportunity for growth. To succeed in affiliate marketing, it is important to choose high-quality products or services, create valuable content, use social media and other platforms, test different promotions, and stay up-to-date on industry trends. By following these tips and choosing the right affiliate programs, you can build a successful affiliate marketing business.


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