What is Affiliate Marketing? A Beginner's Guide in 2023

What is Affiliate Marketing?

What is Affiliate Marketing (1)

Answer: Affiliate marketing is when someone helps to sell things for a company and they get paid for it. They promote the company’s products or services and if someone buys something because of their promotion, they earn money as a reward.

For example: You partner with a web hosting company as an affiliate. You promote their services on your blog and provide a unique affiliate link. When visitors sign up for hosting using your link, you earn a commission for each successful referral.

Key Highlights

  •  Affiliate marketing involves affiliates selling merchants’ products through special affiliate links and earning a commission.
  • There are three main types of affiliate marketing: Unattached, related, and involved affiliate marketing.
  •  Affiliate marketing is cost-effective and can be a good source of passive income.
  • To start affiliate marketing, you need to choose a niche, find an affiliate program, create quality content, and promote the content.
  • To make more money, choose high-quality and high-paying products and promote them over multiple channels. Track your progress and build relationships with your audience and partners.

How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?

Affiliate marketing works under three major concepts:

  1. The merchant (the product owner)
  2. The affiliate (the marketer)
  3. The network (the affiliate platform)

The process starts with the merchant finding an affiliate network (e.g., ShareASale and Commission Junction) and listing their products on the network’s marketplace.

Affiliates then sign up for the program, and the merchant gives them special links, which direct traffic to the merchant’s website or the product page.

The links usually have trackable codes that enable the merchant to identify which sale came from which affiliate partner. When someone buys a product using these links, the affiliate earns a commission based on the number of purchases made.

Types of Affiliate Marketing

If you’re a website owner, affiliate marketing is one of the best and fastest ways to monetize your website.

There are three primary types of affiliate marketing. Your choice will depend on your niche, the businesses you work with, and the type of product/service you want to promote.

  1. Unattached/Standalone Affiliate Marketing
    This is a type of affiliate marketing in which affiliates promote products or services without being formally affiliated with a particular merchant or company. Instead, they operate independently and earn commissions by promoting products or services relevant to their audience.
  2. Related Affiliate Marketing
    This is where affiliates promote products or services related to their business or website.For instance, if you own a website about gardening, you might become an affiliate for a gardening supply company and promote their products on your website through our web hosting advisor.
  3. Involved Affiliate Marketing
    Here, affiliates actively promote and sell a merchant’s products or services. Affiliates carry out a variety of activities, such as writing product reviews, creating marketing materials, and interacting with customers.

Affiliate marketing can also be categorized based on how you earn as an affiliate. Consequently, you can be a pay-per-click, pay-per-sale, or a pay-per-lead affiliate:

  • Pay-per-click: This is where you earn a certain amount when someone clicks on your affiliate link.
  • Pay-per-sale: You earn a percentage of commission on the sales made when someone buys a product through your affiliate link
  • Pay-per-lead: You get a flat fee for every visitor (lead) who signs up or subscribes to a service from your website after clicking on your affiliate link.

Pros and Cons of Affiliate Marketing

affiliate marketing pros and cons

  • Cost-effective: No need to invest in costly advertising campaigns to promote your business online.
  • Source of passive income: Once you sign up as an affiliate, you can earn without dedicating too much time and effort.
  • Low-risk proposition: No initial capital is required, so there is no risk of loss (but with potentially high reward).
  • Increases brand visibility: It puts your brand in front of a larger audience through bloggers and influencers.
  • Require a lot of trust between partners for it to work effectively.
  • There are unscrupulous affiliates who scam people by promoting non-existent or poor-quality products.
  • The competition is high due to the large number of affiliate marketers on the internet.

To learn more about what affiliate marketing entails and explore its advantages and disadvantages, check out our comprehensive guide on the topic.

Affiliate Marketing Statistics (2023)

Here are some interesting statistics relevant to 2023:

  • Affiliate marketing has a market value of over $17 billion as of 2023.
  • It is estimated that affiliate marketing spending in 2023 will be around $13 billion.
  • 16% of online orders in the United States come through affiliate marketing.
  • Affiliate marketing is used by 83% of marketers to raise brand recognition.
  • Bloggers and Review sites are the leading channels for affiliate marketing.
  • Some of the top businesses in the world get 5% to 30% of their internet revenue via affiliate marketing.
  • 80% of brands have an affiliate program.

How to Start Affiliate Marketing

Starting with affiliate marketing can be relatively simple, but it requires some planning and effort. Here are the key steps you need to take to build an affiliate marketing website.

1. Choose a Niche

What will be the focus of your website? I know you often hear that you should pick a niche you’re passionate about, but this isn’t necessarily true. The goal of building an affiliate marketing website is to make money. So, does your passion align with what’s profitable?

To ensure success, look at market trends of the industry you want to get in and the products people are willing to buy. Let’s look at a real-life example:

Say you want to build a website about exercise. Does this niche have potential? How do you find out?

First, you need to research the market. Use Google Trends and other tools like Ubersuggest to check how many people search for related keywords. For example, how many people are searching for “exercise equipment” or “at-home workout routines”?

Final: What is Affiliate Marketing

With this data, you can see the industry’s size and if there is demand. Are people actually buying related products or services? How much are they willing to spend?

Caveat: Niche Down

Yes, you choose exercise to be your niche. However, exercise is a very broad niche. Exercise can be broken down to:

  • Yoga
  • Cardio
  • Pilates
  • Strength Training
  • HIIT, etc.

It will therefore be very hard to compete. So, you need to niche down further. You can, for example, focus on the weight loss market, home gym equipment, or maybe yoga. This helps you focus your efforts on a more targeted audience.

Final: What is Affiliate Marketing

NOTE: Don’t niche too deep. For example, if you focus on a specific type of yoga, it may not be profitable, or there may not be enough demand.

You should also ensure your niche has future potential. Will it be relevant a few years down the line? Think ahead and see if there’s still a market for your niche.

2. Pick Affiliate Programs

Once you’ve chosen a niche, it’s time to research and pick affiliate programs or networks in your niche. Affiliate networks are third-party platforms that act as a bridge between merchants and affiliates, providing tracking and reporting capabilities.

The most popular ones are:

  • Amazon Associates
  • ClickBank
  • ShareASale
  • CJ Affiliates
  • Impact Radius.

These programs allow you to promote products or services from hundreds of merchants in exchange for a commission.

How much you earn depends on the network you join, but most offer a tiered commission structure. For example, Amazon Associates offers fixed commission income rates for specific product categories.

Final: What is Affiliate Marketing

3. Choose Products

Now it’s time to choose the products or services you want to promote. To begin with, pick products that are relevant to your niche and audience’s needs. Look for products with great reviews and a high conversion rate.

How do you do this? Look at blog posts, videos, etc., from your to-be competitors to see which products they’re promoting and how they are promoting them. This will give you ideas of what works and what doesn’t.

Once you’ve narrowed down a list of products to promote, check the commission rate. Some programs offer higher commissions than others, so you want to get the best value for your efforts.

Expert tip: You can choose to promote products that you’ve used and products you truly believe in. This way, you give your customers an honest opinion and provide added value.

4. Create Quality Content

Don’t forget the good old saying: CONTENT IS KING. You need valuable and informative content to drive traffic and boost conversions.

Start by creating blog posts and social media content that is insightful and helpful. You can also create videos to explain how the product works or to showcase your personal experience. Apart from written content, visuals also work great for promoting affiliate products.

Tip: You can promote your content on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. This will help you reach a wider audience.

5. Track Your Progress

You need to know what’s working and what’s not so you can optimize your campaigns. Monitor key metrics like traffic, leads, and sales to understand how well your affiliate marketing efforts are paying off.

Use tools like Google Analytics or HotJar to track your website traffic and measure your campaign performance. This will help you figure out what’s working and what needs to be improved. Use this data to learn and experiment with new strategies, trends, and tactics.

You can also join affiliate marketing forums and ask experienced marketers for tips and advice. This can help you learn new techniques and get valuable feedback.

How to Make Money With Affiliate Marketing

how to make money with affiliate marketing

Although affiliate marketing can be lucrative, most affiliate marketers struggle to make a consistent income. It’s important to note that the amount of money you’ll earn from affiliate marketing depends on your strategy.

If you’re feeling stuck, here are some affiliate marketing tips and strategies to maximize your affiliate marketing ROI (return on investment).

1. Choose High-Paying Products

When selecting products to promote as an affiliate marketer, choose products with higher commission rates.

Research the merchant’s website and read reviews from other affiliate partners to identify products with the highest commission. These will help you maximize your earnings over time.

2. Choose Quality Products

Ensure the products you promote are related to your content and provide a lot of value to the target audience. This will help your customers make an informed decision and increase their chances of buying.

3. Promote Through Multiple Channels

Always use multiple channels to promote your content and increase your audience reach.

For instance, you can combine social media (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) with YouTube videos, blog articles, and email campaigns to increase your chances of driving sales and increasing your commissions.

4. Track and Monitor Your Performance

After a defined period, note what’s working and what isn’t for your campaigns.

Track performance metrics such as website traffic, clicks on affiliate links, and conversion rates. Also, test new strategies continuously and tweak existing ones to maximize profits.

5. Build Relationships with Your Audience

Relationships will help build trust between you and your audience. It will also make them likely to buy using your links and refer someone else.

6. Build Relationships with Partners

Search for partners who provide related products and services and develop an ongoing relationship with them.

Such relationships will allow you to collaborate on content creation and link exchanges, which can lead to more sales.

7. Optimize Your Content Strategy

For your content to rank high on search engines and attract more organic traffic, you need to optimize it before publishing.

You can optimize content using keyword research, alt tags on images, and meta descriptions, among other SEO strategies.

How Fast Can You Make Money With Affiliate Marketing and How Much?

Depending on your approach and how much time and effort you’re willing to invest into the project, you can start making money from affiliate marketing within a few weeks or months.

Affiliate commissions often range from 5-20% of the sales, depending on the type of product sold. Your affiliate marketing ROI within a defined period depends on factors such as:

  • Website traffic volume
  • Clicks and conversions
  • Your products/services of choice
  • Percentage commission offered per sale.
  • Audience targeting

Examples of Affiliate Marketing

What does a successful affiliate marketing campaign look like? Let’s look at some real-life examples of successful affiliate marketing campaigns.

1. Uber and Airbnb

Uber, the ridesharing giant, partnered with companies like Google Maps and Airbnb to give referral commissions.

Through affiliate marketing, Uber boosted its reach across new platforms and expanded its user base exponentially. The company now operates in over 700 cities around the world.

2. Sephora and YouTube Influencers

Sephora, the Beauty giant, also employed a successful affiliate marketing strategy. They partnered with popular YouTube influencers to tap into an entirely new demographic.

The company leveraged these influencers’ large followings to introduce its products to people who may never have heard of them before, resulting in massive growth.

3. Amazon and Online Retailers

Finally, Amazon is one of the most successful affiliate marketing campaigns. Amazon’s Associate program allows online retailers to link their websites directly to product pages on Amazon through special links or banners on their sites.

Thousands of online retailers and website owners earn a lucrative income through the Amazon Associates program when customers buy through their links.

How to Start Affiliate Marketing With No Money

start affiliate marketing with no money

What if you don’t have any money to start affiliate marketing? Can you launch an affiliate marketing campaign without any money?

The answer is yes! Because there are plenty of strategies that can help you get your business up and running with no initial financial investment (just your time and effort).

  • Join affiliate networks: You can start by joining affiliate networks like Amazon Associates, ShareASale, and Clickbank for free and start promoting their products.
  • Start with free content platforms: You can create content on platforms like YouTube and Medium or create a free WordPress website to start building traffic.
  • Utilize Social media: If you don’t have a website, you can start promoting your affiliate links to your social connections on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram.
  • Word-of-mouth advertising: You can also get people who already know and trust you (e.g., friends and family) to talk about your products and services online or in person.
  • Guest blogging: Find websites related to your niche and pitch guest blogging ideas to them. Ensure you inform them that the content will have affiliate links.

Affiliate Marketing Channels

As an affiliate marketer, you can leverage various channels to promote your business, reach a wider audience, and boost your sales and commission.

Here are some of the best affiliate marketing channels to use:

  1. Social media platforms: Write organic posts and utilize sponsored ads and influencer endorsements to promote your products.
  2. Affiliate networks: If you join an affiliate network, you can utilize the free resources they provide, such as support services, to optimize your campaigns.
  3. Websites and blogs: You can write website and blog content related to your products and include your affiliate links as the CTA.
  4. Email marketing: If you have an email list, send emails related to your products with your affiliate links as CTAs.

Affiliate Marketing Tools

Aside from using affiliate marketing channels to promote your products, there are various affiliate marketing tools you’ll need to utilize to optimize your efforts.

Some essential affiliate marketing tools for beginners include

Affiliate Marketing ToolSignificanceExamples
1.Affiliate tracking softwareTo monitor how much traffic and sales each link generatesLinkTrust


Impact Radius

2.Link cloaking softwareTo manage and add redirect links to your affiliate linksEasy Affiliate Link

Genius Link

Auto Amazon Links

3.Link management toolsTo automate tasks such as tracking leads and commissions, creating reports, and setting up payment schedules.Linktree



4.Analytics toolsTo track user behavior, e.g., click-through rates (CTR), time spent on page, and bounce rates.Hootsuite


Google Analytics

5.Content creation toolsTo create high-quality content for your target audienceWordPress



Affiliate Marketing Mistakes

Affiliate marketing can be tricky and less profitable if not done correctly. Many affiliate marketers have approached the business wrongly and made mistakes that cost them a lot.

If you’re a beginner, here are some affiliate marketing mistakes to avoid:

  1. Not disclosing affiliations can break the trust between you and your audience. Always be transparent about your affiliate relationships with your audience.
  1. Not tracking clicks and sales— Failing to track performance will set you up for failure. Use an affiliate management tool to track link clicks and sales.
  1. Choosing the wrong products to promote: only promote products or services you believe in and have personally used or endorsed.
  1. Neglecting compliance—This can cost you fines and legal penalties. Research and comply with laws and regulations related to affiliate marketing before beginning.
  1. Choosing the wrong affiliate programs: Some affiliate programs won’t give you the support you need. Carefully research and choose affiliate programs that offer support and resources.

Strategies for Driving Traffic to Your Affiliate Marketing Website

Now that your website is ready, it’s time to focus on driving traffic. Traffic directly equals conversions and profits, so it’s important to stay ahead of the competition.

Here are some strategies for driving traffic to your affiliate marketing website:

  1. Search engine optimization (SEO) - Optimize your website and content for readers and search engines by researching and incorporating relevant keywords, meta tags, header tags, etc. This will help your site rank higher in search engine results and attract more organic traffic.
  1. Social media marketing - Create and maintain accounts on social media platforms and post content regularly. This helps you grow an audience, build relationships with potential customers, and promote your products and services.
  1. Paid advertising - Invest in paid ads like Google Ads, Facebook Ads, and other ad networks to reach a wider audience and drive more traffic to your website.
  1. Email marketing – Build an email list of subscribers and send them regular updates about your site and new content.

Affiliate Marketing With a Website

affiliate marketing with website

The best way to run an affiliate marketing business is to how to build an affiliate marketing websiteand publish high-quality content around your products of choice.

A WordPress website is always a good place to start. Bear in mind that there are two versions of WordPress:

  • WordPress.org is the self-hosted version of WordPress. This means you must purchase your web hosting and domain name and then download and install the WordPress software on your server. With the self-hosted version of WordPress, you have full control over your website, including installing plugins and custom themes and accessing the source code.
  • WordPress.com is the hosted version of WordPress created by Automattic. This means your website will be hosted on the WordPress.com servers, and you do not have to worry about purchasing web hosting or a domain name. With this version, the customization options are limited, and access to the source code is restricted.

As a beginner, you’ll need to choose a suitable domain name for your affiliate website and find a good web hosting provider. You can then use some of the best WordPress website builders to create a beautiful website for your affiliate business.

After creating your website, you’ll need to start creating high-quality, engaging, and informative content related to your products (e.g., blog posts, videos, and infographics). With every content you create, use your affiliate links as the Call to Action (CTA) for your audience to click on them.

It’s also advisable to build an email list to have a loyal audience for the long term.

How to Promote Affiliate Products Without a Website

What if you don’t have a website or you don’t want to build one? You can still get into affiliate marketing and make money.

However, having a website gives you that edge over other marketers, so it is highly recommended to build one.

But if you don’t have a website yet, here are some ways you can promote affiliate products without a website:

  • Social media platforms - Utilize platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube to share your affiliate links and drive traffic. Share product images or videos, post product reviews, and include affiliate links in your bio or in the post.
  • Influencer marketing - Reach out to influencers in your niche and offer them a commission for every sale they generate.
  • Forum posting - Start posting product reviews in forums and including affiliate links. For example, create an account on Reddit and join relevant subreddits. Then, share your affiliate links in the comments section of threads related to your niche.
  • YouTube - Are you able to create videos? If so, you can start a YouTube channel and promote your affiliate products in the videos. Include call-to-action buttons and links in the video description.

These are some ways to promote affiliate products without a website. Just remember that having a website gives you more control and flexibility and helps you build credibility, so it’s best to invest in one.

Should I Take Courses To Create an Affiliate Marketing Program?

It’s possible to create an affiliate marketing program without taking courses. However, it’s highly recommended that you take courses or get some kind of training to gain knowledge and skills about the affiliate marketing process.

Courses can help you understand how affiliates work, what products are best for affiliate marketing, how to best promote your products and services, and how to create an effective affiliate tracking system.

Additionally, courses can provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the legal and ethical aspects of affiliate marketing, such as disclosure and compliance requirements. This will help you avoid potential legal issues and ensure that your affiliate marketing program is ethical and complies with industry standards.

There are many courses available online that cover how to create an affiliate marketing program.

  • The Authority Site System
  • Authority Hacker Pro
  • Launch Your Blog Biz
  • The Affiliate Lab
  • Passive Income Geek

Most of these courses will provide step-by-step instructions and practical tips on creating and managing a successful program.

Tips for Finding and Choosing the Right Courses

Here are some tips for finding and choosing the right courses:

  • Look for courses specific to affiliate marketing - Not all online marketing courses cover affiliate marketing specifically, so make sure to look for courses tailored to affiliate marketing.
  • Check the course’s curriculum - Make sure that the course covers the topics that you need to learn about, such as how to identify the right products and services to promote, how to attract and recruit quality affiliates, and how to track and measure the success of your program.
  • Look for courses taught by industry experts - The course should be taught by someone with experience and knowledge in the field of affiliate marketing and can provide valuable insights and advice.
  • Check the course format - Some courses are self-paced, while others are live, see which format works best for you.
  • Look for reviews - Before you enroll in a course, look for reviews from previous students to get an idea of the course’s quality and effectiveness.


Affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to make money online. All you need to do is choose a niche and find a suitable affiliate program. You can then select high-quality products to promote across multiple channels like your website or social media platforms. With the right strategy and consistency, you’ll soon have a lucrative source of income for the long term.

Find the best web hosting provider and start building your affiliate marketing website today to earn a passive income online.

Next Steps: What Now?

Now that you know how to start an affiliate marketing business, here are some practical steps you can take from this article:

Further Reading – Useful Resources

Here are some more valuable resources you can read to learn more about affiliate marketing:

  1. What is affiliate marketing?
  2. Affiliate Marketing 101: What it is and How to Get Started
  3. Affiliate Marketing For Beginners: What It Is + How to Succeed
  4. Best Affiliate Programs That Pay the Highest Commission
  5. How To Make A Profitable Affiliate Marketing Website

Frequently Asked Questions

How Can I Start Affiliate Marketing?

The first step is identifying a product or service you want to promote. You’ll then need to create content that promotes it and publish it on your website or social media accounts. Finally, you need to sign up for an affiliate network to connect with merchants looking for affiliates to promote their products.

What is the best platform for affiliate marketing?

Many platforms are available for affiliate marketing. The two most popular options are Amazon Associates and ClickBank. While Amazon Associates is the best for promoting physical products, ClickBank is best suited for digital products like eBooks, software, and membership sites.

Which type of affiliate marketing is the most profitable?

It all depends on what type of product or service you’re promoting. Generally, pay-per-click programs tend to generate more income than pay-per-sale or pay-per-lead. Additionally, higher-priced items tend to have higher commission rates than lower-priced items.

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