What is Affiliate Marketing? Definition, Terms, and Strategies

August 2, 2023

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a type of digital marketing where the affiliate seeks a promotional offer as an affiliate link and promotes it to customers for a commission off an action. The action may be a sale, a lead, a new user, a download, or a click. Affiliate income is determined by the agreement between company and affiliate. This is known as an affiliate partnership.

Affiliate marketing works by creating content on a blog, YouTube channel, podcast, website, social media, or through email marketing, and driving traffic to that content. The content includes at least one affiliate link to an affiliate merchant that sells some kind of product. When interested customers click the affiliate link, they are taken to the company’s website. Here, they may take an action that earns money for the affiliate marketer. Or, they may have cookies added to their browser for a period that also generates income for the affiliate marketer.

Affiliate marketing is sometimes referred to as performance marketing.

Other Affiliate Marketing Definitions

What is affiliate Marketing Australia? Affiliate marketing in Australia also involves generating sales or other actions for a company, but it is only legal if the potential customer is aware of the relationship.

What is Affiliate Marketing UK? Affiliate marketing in the United Kingdom also includes promoting other entity’s affiliate offer for a commission. The UK falls under the Federal Trade Commission guidelines and requires an affiliate disclaimer on affiliate sites. The US is governed by the same FTC laws.

What is Affiliate Marketing Canada? Affiliate marketing in Canada also requires affiliates to promote promotional links across content, earning them a commission per action. According to their Canadian Competition Act, affiliates here must submit to strict transparency rules, especially around their disclaimers. This disclaimer generator will break down exactly what Canadians need to do to remain legal.

What is Affiliate Marketing NZ? Affiliate marketing in New Zealand involves pairing up with companies to promote their products for a commission. In New Zealand, you must label any link you give so that consumers know it's an ad. Products that are restricted by age, like alcohol or health products, have extra steps you’ll have to follow. 

What is high ticket affiliate marketing? High ticket affiliate marketing entails promoting high value products to earn higher commissions than traditional affiliate marketing, often $1,000 or more. 

What is Affiliate Marketing Reddit? According to the users of Reddit, the affiliate marketing definition is:
  • “…where you get paid a commission for any sales you refer to a site selling goods (provided they have an affiliate program you are signed up for). Imagine you have a travel blog and write a post with your recommendations for best suitcase, camera, walking shoes, travel gear, backup phone battery, etc. Now, you could sign up with an eCommerce site as an affiliate and link to those products on their site and whenever somebody reads your article and clicks over to buy that item, you get a commission. Or maybe you have a site where you rate drones, and link to a site that sells drones with each review.”
  • When …”I have a $10 toy, your friend wants that toy, you ask him to buy it from me. He buys it for $10. I pay you $2 commission for that sale.”

Are Affiliate Marketers Like Middlemen?

Affiliate marketers are like middlemen, because they bring customers and companies together where traditional advertising doesn’t reach. In this way, it’s a bit like local lead generation, where you become a middleman between customers and small businesses. But, with the rank and rent method of lead generation, there is just one website per business, and it doesn’t need to be updated constantly with new content.

What are the 3 Main Types of Affiliates?

  • Unattached affiliates have no connection between the product, niche, customer, or program. 
  • Involved affiliates use the product and love it enough to promote it to their followers.
  • Related affiliates promote offers that have something to do with their established niche.

The easiest affiliate marketing to do is unattached affiliate marketing, because content is easier to produce. If you can rank your site, you can add reviews and offers easily. However, if you have a substantial social media following, it might be easier for you personally to be an involved or related affiliate instead. In fact, influencer marketing is one of the most popular ways to promote affiliate links.

What are the Different Types of Affiliate Commissions?

  • Revenue sharing: The company “shares” part of the sale with their affiliates.
  • Pay per click or (PPC): The company sets a certain amount paid to the affiliate each time a consumer clicks the link.
  • Cash on delivery: The company pays the affiliate when the customer has paid for and receives the product.
  • Cost per thousand impressions (CPM): The company sets a monetary amount awarded to the affiliate per 1000 impressions.
  • Pay per action (PPA): The company pays the affiliate whenever a customer completes an action, like setting an appointment.
  • Pay per lead: The company pays the affiliate every time they bring in a lead.
  • Pay per sale: The company pays the affiliate when a customer buys the product.
  • Pay per install: The company pays the affiliate when a customer installs the product or another digital product, like a free eBook.
  • Cost per engagement: The engagement metric is more open-ended. The company may choose to structure their affiliate program over several actions once the customer is on their site or in their app.

Some affiliate programs will input two-tier payment options, where they combine two or more of the above offers to maximize the affiliate’s earnings.

What Interactions Earn Me Affiliate Revenue?

Sales, installs, leads, clicks, and actions like signing up for a newsletter are all interactions a customer might take that will earn you money as an affiliate marketer. The best offers to promote are those that pay you monthly, like a subscription. For example, if you promote a monthly subscription box, you can get a cut off your customer’s subscription each month. But you’ll have to find an affiliate program with this option. If you find a program that you want to promote that doesn’t offer this, you can suggest it; sometimes companies will allow it if you simply ask. Another option is to connect with affiliate programs that offer high ticket sales like a coaching program or exclusive retreats. 

What Does an Affiliate Marketer Do?

An affiliate marketer promotes another company’s product for a cut of the sales. They do this by promoting links on various channels, like review sites, landing pages, coupon sites, email lists, social media networks, or a blog post. 

It takes about 2-3 months to learn affiliate marketing, though it can take 1-2 years before making sustainable income. 

The cost of affiliate marketing is $500-$3,000 to start, depending on your strategy and what affiliate marketing programs you choose. Some programs charge over $2,000 to join, a training like Super Affiliate System is $997, but some are free. Plus, for your best chance at becoming profitable, you’ll need to run ad campaigns, use ad tracking tools, pay for website hosting, and more.

To make money with affiliate marketing, you’ll have to create content across various platforms, building a target audience with both organic and paid traffic. You might have various websites or landing pages that promote different offers from ClickBank, or you might promote specific offers from your favorite companies. 

Products you can sell in affiliate marketing include: 

  • Financial products, like LifeLock
  • Virtual reality products, like headsets
  • Other electronics, like drones
  • Insurance products, like Lemonade
  • Kitchen equipment, like protein shakers
  • Gaming products, like Logitech keyboards or speakers
  • Office accessories, like desk bikes or 3D Printers
  • Fashion products, like backpacks, clothes, jewelry, or shapewear
  • Phone accessories, like wireless chargers
  • Digital courses, like Entre Blueprint
  • Gardening products, like hydroponic kits,
  • Beauty/grooming products, like razors or makeup
  • Baby care products, like strollers
  • Home automation or security products, like cameras or lighting
  • Wearable devices, like Garmin or FitBit watches
  • Gym equipment, like BowFlex machines
  • Pet products, like Bully Sticks
  • Car products, like floor mats

You can also promote services, software, or subscriptions, like:

  • Travel, hotel, tour, or transportation products, through Tripadvisor

  • Dating platforms, like eHarmony

  • Real estate offers, like New Silver Lending

  • Food delivery services

  • Cloud hosting, like GoDaddy

  • Traffic-generation, like Traffic Authority

Affiliate marketers get paid when someone clicks their affiliate link and interacts with the website in whatever way may earn money. Some affiliate links require a sale to be made. Others just require a site visit. When it’s time for payout, affiliate marketers often get paid through PayPal, Payoneer, Stripe, or a bank wire transfer.

Is it Hard to Do Affiliate Marketing?

It is hard to do affiliate marketing, even though its low cost to start and making content is simple. 90-95% of affiliate marketers fail. This is because of the disadvantages of affiliate marketing:

  • Affiliate marketing is competitive.
  • Affiliate commission is low. (Amazon associate is 5%)
  • Customers won’t be loyal to your offers, and there will be little brand awareness. The customer will be loyal to the product. You can’t track the list of items sold through your affiliate link.
  • No control of the affiliate relationship you enter; rules/commissions can change.
  • Low barrier to entry. Everyone can try.
  • The key to success is traffic, which is unpredictable.
  • Affiliate marketing is not very passive.
  • You might get advice from the wrong person.

The best ways to avoid or minimize the disadvantages of being an affiliate marketer are:

  • Realize that you are competing against global internet marketers who have promoted products for decades. Adjust your marketing strategy to use paid advertising and diversified promotions to combat this. Recognize that it may take you years to be as relevant as the time-tested affiliate marketers.
  • Search for programs with higher commissions. Opt for commissions that pay monthly or continuously once you sell the product.
  • Create social media channels and build loyal fans that will come back to an influencer for advice, not the brand.
  • Outsource your content creation to an assistant content creator (this will negatively affect your profitability).
  • Choose affiliate marketing courses that were created recently by affiliates with verifiable success. Two options are Invincible Marketer by Aaron Chen and Super Affiliate System 3.0 by John Crestani.

The biggest disadvantage to affiliate marketing is that you’re building someone else’s brand. You could put in the same amount of effort promoting your own products and keep 100% of the profits.

How to Start Affiliate Marketing?

  • Choose a niche. Potential affiliates use tools like Google Trends to find something you’re passionate about with lower competition that people are searching for. It’s a good idea to choose products that are a little more expensive with a greater buyout.
  • Choose a platform. You might choose to create several landing pages to promote different offers. Or, you might use Instagram to promote whatever goes along with your content, or a YouTube channel.
  • Search affiliate programs and negotiate. Try to find brands with high commissions, good brand recognition, and low competition.
  • Create promotional content with intelligently placed links. Links should have anchor text that describes exactly what the customer will visit when they click. Links should also be scattered throughout content where they make sense.
  • Drive traffic. Do this with paid ads, or organic means like TikTok or Pinterest.
  • Update and monitor. Use tools like Google Analytics to keep track of your site's health and popularity. Continue to update and create more content.
  • Continue to learn how to start affiliate marketing with online courses and expert advice.

You don’t need any qualifications to start affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing programs typically won’t ask for proof of education. But, each program will have its own rules and affiliate marketing software. For example, you need at least 500 followers to be an Amazon affiliate (though this number is really much higher).

You also don’t need any specific license for affiliate marketing, though certain skills will help you be more successful more quickly. Important skills for the successful affiliate marketer include:

  • Organizational skills (creating content calendars, keeping platforms and programs straight)
  • Communication (contacting affiliate program representatives, connecting with your audience)
  • Marketing skills (how to win the affiliate sale)
  • Data analysis (finding a profitable niche, looking at advertising A/B testing and making appropriate adjustments)
  • Website design (forming landing pages and funnels, making it all look seamless with no errors)
  • Creativity (content marketing in the form of descriptions, blogs, videos, pictures, etc.)

Beginners can do affiliate marketing. But, it can be hard because you face other affiliate marketers who have been promoting for years. So, it will take you at least 3 months to become good at affiliate marketing. Still, beginner affiliate marketers only make around $1000/month, if they’re profitable at all with this online business model.

If you're really into affiliate marketing, you can check my article about the Journey to the Center of Amazon course that teaches tips to succeed in Amazon associates. 

How Do I Start Affiliate Marketing with No Money?

To start affiliate marketing with no money:

  • Use free tools to conduct niche research.
  • Create your own content.
  • Use free social media platforms, rather than purchasing a domain and hosting for websites.
  • Take free affiliate marketing courses.
  • Post consistently. It’s best to post when your audience is most active.
  • Just send your links to friends and family.

How Much Money Can You Make as an Affiliate Marketer

You can make from $4,900 to $13,168 per month as an affiliate marketer before expenses. You strengthen your chances of being profitable by choosing the best affiliate marketing programs. For instance, Amazon affiliate pays about $5,000/month after about a year of consistent, hard work. Amazon games pay the most, with a 20% commission. Luxury beauty comes in next at 10% commission.

Should You Join Direct Affiliate Program or Affiliate Marketplace?

You should join a direct affiliate program if you want to promote a specific affiliate product or have a lower startup budget.. You should join an affiliate marketplace if you have more money to join the platform and you want easier connections with companies.

  • A direct affiliate program is a program run by a single affiliate partner.
  • An affiliate marketplace, or affiliate network, is a middleman platform that connects affiliate marketers to companies with affiliate programs.

Affiliate Marketing Program Examples and Top Commission Rates

  • Elementor: 50% 

  • Shopify: 100% on first 2 payments of a subscription. 

  • AWeber: 50%

  • TemplateMonster: 70%

  • Typeform: 20%

Affiliate marketing platforms like Clickbank, CJ Affiliate, and BigCommerce connect you with multiple offers from multiple companies. BigCommerce pays the most, sometimes over $1000/sale (and offers a dedicated affiliate manager to be your point of contact).

The best opportunities to help affiliate marketers get started are affiliate programs that host pay per lead programs. With pay per lead, affiliate marketers don’t need to push a sale, just a lead for the company. ShareASale pays up to $150 for leads.

Is Affiliate Marketing Worth It?

Affiliate marketing is worth it for those who have a large social media presence or active blog. It’s also worth it if you want to learn about digital marketing but have a small budget, and have little riding on this endeavor. Another way to make money online is local lead generation, which involves promoting your own affiliate website, ranking it to the top of google, and generating leads for a small business.

Follow Me
Ippei Kanehara

$52K per month providing lead generation services to small businesses

Ippei.com is for digital hustlers, industry leaders and online business owners.

His #1 online business recommendation in 2024, is to build your own lead generation business.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

  1. I am planning to join an affiliate marketing program soon. Maybe I'll go with a marketplace but I am also interested in connecting with BigCommerce. Need to think about it. Thanks for sharing this!

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}