When I tell people I’m an affiliate marketer, I get a variety of responses—but for the most part, people are incredibly perplexed. Some don’t have any idea what affiliate marketing is, while others imagine it’s some sort of scammy way to make money that has lived out its popularity in recent years. What exactly is affiliate marketing and who partakes in it? How does it work? And the big question: can you actually make money doing it?

As a beginner (or complete newbie) to affiliate marketing, you might have a lot of questions. So let’s get them answered!

Here are a few of the commonly asked questions people have regarding affiliate marketing to help you understand how the business works.

What Is Affiliate Marketing?

This is absolutely the most common question I hear. Affiliate marketing involves promoting a merchant’s services or goods and in exchange you receive a certain pay or commission. It works differently with every vendor—some will pay you per click on a link, while others will give you a percentage of the sale.

So basically, think of it like this: you use a certain product and absolutely love it, so you tell all of your friends about it. But instead of simply sharing the news with people about it, you also earn a bit of money for doing so. When done on a larger scale to an audience of people who trust your opinion and are looking for the types of products and services you promote, it can actually become a side job or even your full-time job.



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Who Can Be An Affiliate Marketer?

Well, anyone really! Unlike other professions that require years of schooling or training, time at unpaid internships, or entry-level positions, literally anyone can become an affiliate marketing. There are no education requirements, no age requirements, and you don’t need to be located in any particular area. This is a job you can do solely from a good internet connection.

Before you quit your job to be an affiliate marketer, though, know that the most successful affiliate marketers spend months and even years building up their audience, gaining their trust, and setting up a reliable business model that generates revenue. So while the entry requirements are low, it does involve a lot of (unpaid) work upfront. Additionally, there are some skills, like web design, WordPress, writing, video editing, and programming that can certainly be beneficial and increase your chances for success.

How Can You Promote Affiliate Links?

Generally, people think of websites when they think of affiliate marketing, but there are a few ways to promote your affiliate links, including:

  • A website or blog.
  • An email list or newsletter.
  • Social media, like Facebook or Twitter.
  • Post on blogs (in the comments section) or forums.
  • Write an e-book or other digital product.
  • YouTube videos.

Sometimes affiliate marketers use only one of these methods, however the most successful ones employ more than one of these to create income from multiple streams.

How Do You Sign Up To Be An Affiliate?

There are two avenues for affiliate marketers to sign up as an affiliate: affiliate programs and affiliate networks. An affiliate program is essentially a one-on-one situation. You’re the affiliate and you’re signed up with one company to promote their services or products. Affiliate networks, on the other hand, are more like umbrellas that can include many affiliate programs underneath them.

The key to deciding on what affiliate programs or networks to join is really dependent on you and what you want to promote. Beginner affiliate marketers often fail to realize the importance of declaring a niche. For example, baby products and supplies is a rather broad category of items; instead, hone in on toddler toys and supplies that are eco-friendly. This is a much more focused plan that will resonate much deeper with your audience, be they website visitors or email recipients.

To sign up, you’ll usually go to the site, fill out a form, and await approval. You don’t need to pay anything to join affiliate programs or networks at all.

What Kinds Of Affiliate Programs And Networks Are Out There?

There are affiliate programs in place for pretty much anything you can dream up, from beauty and skincare to cooking and baking to camping and the outdoors. Again, the more specific you are in deciding on a niche, the easier it will be to pick and choose which programs or networks you’d like to join. If you’re promoting affordable travel for families, then romantic or luxury vacation packages won’t be of much interest to your followers. So choose a niche first, and let that guide you to the correct affiliate programs and networks.

How Does Payment Work?

This varies depending on the program or network. Before you sign up and start promoting links, make sure you know the following:

  • The payment threshold. Do you get paid once you’ve earned $10 in commissions or $100?
  • What you get paid for. Do you receive a percentage of sales or is it simply a certain amount based on referrals alone?
  • How long the cookie lasts. A cookie is a piece of data that web browsers use to store information, and it gets placed temporarily on the computer of anyone who clicks on your affiliate links. Some cookies last for mere hours, while others last for days or weeks. Consider the buying habits of your audience to know what the minimum time you would want for the cookie to be.

Can You Actually Make Money As An Affiliate Marketer?

Ah, this is the question that all beginner affiliate marketers want to know. The truth is that while you can make money as an affiliate, it’s certainly not going to be an overnight success. Any affiliate marketers who say you can make thousands in your first month or two on the job are flat-out lying. This is the type of job that requires a lot of work upfront and has the potential to pay off in the future.

Therein lies the reason that so many people think affiliate marketing is an outdated or unsuccessful revenue route. They try it out for a few months, make very little, and call it a wash. However, by sticking with it in the long term, you can actually make money.

The best way to ensure success as an affiliate marketer is to clearly understand the types of products and services you want to offer, understand your audience (blog readers, social media following, etc.), and to put out new content consistently. You’re not going to make hundreds of dollars from a couple blog posts, but over time you’ll hopefully start to see cash coming in.