What Is Affiliate Marketing?

There’s a whole lot of people asking “what is affiliate marketing”, and for good reason. Affiliate marketing is based around a performance based referral marketing. If you go to a nice restaurant and recommend it to a friend, they might visit the restaurant. However, there is no referral fee.

With affiliate marketing you get paid for such referrals. By recommending products and services online, you can earn commissions from sales which you have generated.

The company or person who owns the product or service is known as the vendor. You are the affiliate. After sales have been made your referral is tracked by your affiliate link, which is unique to you. You then get paid according to the terms of the referral program you have joined.

What Is Affiliate Marketing? – Amazon

Amazon is a well known online retailer. Most people have already bought something from the store. Amazon’s affiliate program allows anyone to join and promote their products. Each time someone buys from one of their affiliate’s links, it is tracked and the sale is assigned to that specific affiliate. You can join the Amazon associates program here.

Affiliate marketing can give anyone the ability to earn an income from their laptop or home computer. This is why it has gathered so much attention over recent years. But how exactly do top affiliates quit their day jobs and go full time with their affiliate marketing business?

Joining The Ebay Partner Program

what is affiliate marketing

Ebay also have a partner program which lets you promote and earn from their products. You can join here. Affiliate networks are not limited to the likes of Ebay and Amazon though. There are thousands of companies which offer the ability to sell goods and services online and make a profit. Simply type an area of interest or business niche into the Google search bar with “affiliate program” attached to find a program which is suitable in your area of interest.

What’s Involved With Affiliate Marketing As A Business?

You can play around with affiliate marketing and maybe earn a small extra income from it. However, the top affiliates have turned affiliate marketing into something of an art form. There are several ways to get started with affiliate marketing and start making money. How much time and effort you put in will be the major determining factor in whether you are successful or not. Affiliate marketing starts with generating content and driving visitors or traffic to products around the internet. You can do this in several different ways:

  • With a website by blogging in your area of expertise.
  • With online advertising through platforms like Google Adwords, Facebook, Bing, Yahoo etc.
  • By creating videos and uploading to YouTube to generate interest and drive traffic to products
  • By creating an email list of subscribers and offering value while promoting various products to them

In short all methods involve driving website traffic to products and services. To do this you must create value in your content.

Affiliate Marketing and Technology

what is affiliate marketing

Technology has made affiliate marketing much more available. Only a few years ago it was much more difficult to become an affiliate marketer than it is today. New software, systems and tools have become much more user friendly. If you can operate an email, you can learn how to do affiliate marketing.

Some of the new technology which allows affiliates to reach more people includes:

  • Email marketing – Email marketing is the ‘killer app’ of online marketing. With an autoresponder you can set emails to go out at specific times and create a ‘hands off’ email series to reach thousands of people instantaneously.
  • Retargeting – Advertising which ‘notices’ what people are interested in and targets them deliberately
  • Targeted advertising – Facebook advertising lets you target people by their interests, location, age and a number of other demographics. This makes finding the right people for your products and services much easier than was previously possible
  • Digital products – let you download and access instantly documents, websites, membership areas and various other products. They also let you, as an affiliate, earn 40-50% of the items value for the sale of them.

Affiliate Marketing and Content Creation

What is affiliate marketing? It can be very different things to different online marketers.

  1. Some affiliates choose to simply create adverts and send website traffic to landing pages. Once there, they collect the visitors email by offering a free product of some kind. A series of emails is sent out automatically. These emails contain links to products and services for which the affiliate can earn commissions from.
  2. Another method is content creation. Like this article, affiliates create content which offers value. They share the content and hope it will get picked up by the search engines like Google. If ranked highly enough, content can continue to bring in ‘search’ traffic for potentially years to come. The traffic is directed to an email list or various products.

The two main methods of generating traffic are paid advertising and free advertising. Although ‘free’ advertising doesn’t cost money it does take more time. It takes time to create content and it takes time for that content to be shared around the internet and get noticed. Here is a short break down of some of the benefits and drawbacks of both forms of advertising.

what is affiliate marketing

Paid Advertising Vs. Free Advertising

Paid Advertising – Direct Response Marketing

Paid advertising obviously costs money. Many affiliates start out because they need more money. Therefore paid advertising isn’t a great option for them. Although paid advertising can bring results much faster, you still need to test out your adverts to see if they are working and to optimize them. It’s worth sticking to a budget you are prepared to lose in the first instance with paid advertising.

Split Testing

However, that doesn’t mean you should give up if you don’t get immediate returns. By testing and measuring each aspect of an advertising campaign, you can eventually create a scenario where you are spending half as much as you are making. When you get this consistently, you are in a position to scale up. Simply increase your advertising budget and hey presto, you have a cash machine! Only with paid advertising can you do this. With content creation, you can create more content but you can’t scale up in the same way as paid advertising.

Content Creation

Content creation might involve writing articles and videos and sharing them around the web. You can also build links back to your content from other websites to increase your reach. Content creation is a cheap and affordable way to build up some nice trickles of traffic to your website. Keep doing it long enough and you will have some nice streams of traffic which continue to grow as people share your content.

Quality Content

Good quality content is what counts really. People won’t continue to read your articles and watch your videos if they get nothing from them. So make them good! Content creation is a good method to build up your reputation and bring traffic to your website. From there you can offer a ‘freebie’ of some kind and get people on your list. Both free and paid methods of advertising online should be backed up by building a list of subscribers.

What Is Affiliate Marketing – Why Build A List?

what is affiliate marketing

List building is the best thing you can do as an affiliate marketer. The reason is that paid advertising continues to cost money. You free advertising methods are at the whim of the search engines, more about that in a minute. By building a list of targeted visitors it puts you in control of your traffic. You can write to your list and build a relationship over months, years and potentially decades. With a website you only have a small window of opportunity to sell to your customers. With a list that window is extended much further.

Getting Found On The Search Engines

To get content in front of as many people as possible, web owners compete to rank on the first page of Google for their chosen keywords. As an example this article is titled “what is affiliate marketing“. This is quite a competitive keyword and the chances of ranking my article for it are fairly slim! To give yourself a better chance of ranking an article you need to write content which the search engines want to rank highly. That means providing the best possible content and writing quality articles which people naturally share.

Link Profile

what is affiliate marketing

Google uses your link profile to determine how many websites have ‘recommended’ your content. The number of quality links back to your content are used as an indicator of its value. Many online marketers spend time building their own back links to improve this rating. However, if you concentrate on quality content this should happen anyway over time. Google looks for a natural link profile so trying to ‘trick’ Google might have to opposite effect on your ratings. Building links from sites which have similar content to yours though is a good move. Avoid ‘spammy’ paid for links which could do you more damage than good.

Targeting The Right People For Your Products

Having your perfect target audience in mind when creating your content is vital to your online success. Your content must match your products. As an example, if your interest is in gardening and you blog about harvesting and planting crops, your products should reflect this. Make sure your audience is well defined. As already mentioned, you can target your audience very specifically with Facebook advertising. And also with Adwords advertising. The same applies with content creation. Define a very specific audience before you begin creating content and it will massively improve your bottom line. See why target market is important.

Benefits Of Affiliate Marketing

what is affiliate marketing

What is affiliate marketing? There is a lot involved with affiliate marketing, but it can also be simple. Some affiliates simply blog and make money through their recommended products. Others spend thousands on advertising sending people to their list and building it into the tens of thousands of subscribers. A single email can make them a lot of money if they do it right.

What drew me to affiliate marketing is the simplicity of it. Before becoming an affiliate marketer I was buying and selling on Ebay. See my article on how I made money with ebay. I had a room full of unsold stock and seemed to be spending far too much time searching for products to buy, listing them and queuing at the post office to have my parcels weighed.

I knew something better was possible. I had bought a few business ideas from Ebay itself. You know the kind. “How to make money from ebay”. At the time you could buy and download guides from ebay. Since then they have changed the rules. I was amazed and fascinated by the simplicity of buying something and accessing it immediately. No postage for the seller and it can all be automated. See autopilot money making system.

Simple System

The simple system of buying something online and having access to it immediately seemed to be a brilliant model. There was no clutter, no postage costs and nothing to store. All you needed was a laptop and internet connection! It seemed like the perfect business model to me. Some of the benefits of affiliate marketing included:

  • Work from anywhere.
  • Work around existing commitments and employment
  • You only need a laptop and internet connection.
  • No products to store or post
  • No need to deliver goods or speak to customers.

Difficulties and Struggle

what is affiliate marketing

Although this business model had me hooked from the start I struggled. I bought several online courses teaching me various ways to earn money on the internet:

  • Google Adsense – Different to affiliate marketing in that you get paid to advertise on your website. Small adverts get placed on your content. You get paid each time someone clicks on your advert.
  • Ranking Organically – I had several sites I attempted to rank on Google without success. I rushed at it and failed to make consistent sales. Although I did learn a lot, I didn’t make enough sales.
  • Paid Advertising – I had a great breakthrough with paid advertising until my Adwords account got shut down and I didn’t get it back.
  • List Building – My organic sites were set up to capture emails and deliver an email series. Except I never ranked so I didn’t get any subscribers.
  • Keyword Research – I spent a long time researching keywords and building sites around these keywords. Some of them ranked but mostly they were low quality sites and they fell by the wayside.

My First Online Sale

I had a few successes though too. Although my failures seemed greater I kept at it and put it all down to experience. I had learned a lot and wasn’t going to let all that work be for nothing. I had made a few sales. One came directly from an article I had written on the blog site hubpages.com. It was quite exciting at the time but turned out to be a short lived victory. I didn’t make another through the same article. I also sold a number of affiliate marketing training courses from one of my earlier mentors. Until my Adwords account got stopped and I was gutted!

I made a sale from one of my organic sites called tedsheds.net. I sold shed plans which I found on Clickbank.com. Again it was an isolated sale and I didn’t get any more after that for some time. I was making a small ‘trickle’ income from some of my adsense websites. But I didn’t get enough traffic to really make any real money from them.


what is affiliate marketing
Not this kind of traffic but website traffic!

Most of my problems stemmed from a lack of traffic. Traffic is pretty important when selling affiliate products online. You don’t want random traffic either, you want targeted traffic. You want buyer traffic. But I was also focused in the wrong areas. My mindset was wrong.


I was focused on doing everything cheap and saving money. Being out of work a lot and jumping from one job to another will do that to you. You start penny pinching. This is very counter intuitive for an online business. Shifting my mindset has taken the longest amount of time. Of course if you don’t have much money you don’t spend it. But continuing to think that saving money is the best policy has held me back online.

This is because my mindset was always to fall back on saving money. I was afraid to spend. Even if spending meant making a profit, I would take that profit and try to live frugally on it. I didn’t reinvest and grow my business. I was too thrifty and fearful of spending on my business. Even when spending meant I made a profit, I took that profit and went back to being thrifty.

Self Image

what is affiliate marketing

You can’t grow beyond your self image. My self image was of being poor and struggling. This is why I continued to recreate it in my life. Strategies for having no money didn’t work for building a long term and sustainable online business. When I read Psycho cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz it was a huge eye opener for me. As a career self help reader it has definitely been one of the best self help books I have read.

Busy Fool

When I first started out online I was definitely being a ‘busy fool’. I made products which didn’t sell. I built websites which didn’t rank on Google. I did all the wrong things. I wasted a lot of time. It is possible to be a busy fool and not realize you’re wasting your time. Especially if you don’t have a mentor and a specific action plan. I learned to concentrate on money producing activities after getting a mentor.

 What is Affiliate Marketing – Employee Mentality

So what is affiliate marketing? Is it a just means of making money? Any money making activity means improving yourself and I have definitely found this to be the case with affiliate marketing. You are the owner when it comes to building your own affiliate marketing business. As such you can’t rely on the mindset and strategies which you learn as an employee.

You have to see the bigger picture. Otherwise you will get trapped by your business instead of using it as a platform for freedom. An affiliate marketing business can allow any lifestyle you deem fit. You can travel and earn or work from home. But you need to do the right things in order to make it work. This means stepping outside your comfort zones and changing the way you look at things.

Goal Setting

You hear it all the time. Any success orientated person has set some very specific goals for themselves and are working towards them at any given time. If you don’t have goals, you should set some. The best book I have read on goal setting is Stuart Lichtman’s How to get lots of money for anything fast. Stuart is an MIT professor who has tested the strategies in his book on NASA astronauts with a surprising success rate. He calls his method the Cybernetic Transposition Technique.

Stuart Lichtman’s Cybernetic Transposition Technique

what is affiliate marketing

The conflicting parts of our minds inhibit our actions towards our goals and dreams. We ‘get in our own way’ when we want to create outcomes in our lives. This book explains in detail how to align those part of our minds to work in harmony in attaining anything we truly desire. It allows us to experiment with and find out what it is we really want, and not just think we want. Get his book here.

Affiliate Marketing Models That Work

So what is affiliate marketing to you? There are various different ways to run an affiliate marketing business. You need a passion for what you do to continue doing it for the long term. Many people try and give up with affiliate marketing. If you find your passion it’s much easier to continue doing it than for the money alone. But you do need to make money too. You can’t live without it unless you live off grid and for most people that’s just not a possibility. So which affiliate marketing models work best? Which generate money over and over again from the same amount of work?

Recurring Affiliate Commissions

what is affiliate marketing

Recurring affiliate commissions are probably one of the best models to follow as an affiliate marketer. A recurring commission can give you monthly or yearly recurring commissions for the lifetime of a customer you have referred. You only need to refer a customer once, and providing they continue to keep up their membership, you continue to earn commissions based on their monthly payments. Hosting providers are a good example of companies who offer recurring affiliate commissions. See my article on recurring affiliate programs.

What is affiliate marketing? The best way to use affiliate marketing is to choose the right products and build your content around those products. Use products which offer recurring affiliate commissions.

High Ticket Products

High ticket products are another way to better monetise your affiliate marketing business. With high ticket items you can make larger commissions on each sale. This is obviously beneficial to your bank account but it also means:

  • You can offset the cost of advertising
  • You can scale up more quickly and easily.

With low ticket items which sell for $100, you can make $40 given a 40% commission. With an item priced at $2000 you can make $800 for the same or a similar amount of effort – given a similar commission rate. Selling multiple items immediately sets this apart from a low value item. Sell 10 $100 products and make $400. Sell 10 $2000 products and make $8000. How long will it take to make a similar amount from the low ticket item? You would need to sell 200 items at $100 to make $8000. Or just 10 at $2000. 

Selling high ticket items in conjunction with recurring affiliate commissions is a great way to monetize you affiliate business, and much better than simply selling single sale items.

Promote Items Which Offer Back End Sales Commissions

Many online vendors only offer commissions based on the single sale of one of their products. They then attain a lifetime customer which they can sell to again and again. The full value of a lifetime customer is huge but many affiliate marketers are leaving money on the table by choosing the wrong affiliate programs to join. By joining a program which offers lifetime commissions for the lifetime of a referred customer, you can benefit from later sales made through that company – even when someone else closes the sale on your behalf.

Built In Sales Team

Choose products which offer a built in sales team. Back end sales closed on your behalf later on, are attributed to your initial sale and you earn more commissions. This can happen months or years down the line. Choose a program which offers all of these above benefits for maximum potential and profit. Access one here.

what is affiliate marketing

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