I’ve been doing online affiliate marketing for years…
Today, I can focus on my traveling hobby while still earning big bucks.
And I’m writing this so you can start living more by earning passive income.
But don’t get me wrong.
Affiliate marketing requires work.
Don’t worry, though. I’m going to tell you all you need to know — from what is affiliate marketing online to how to get started and much more.
Let’s dive right in!
So Just What is Affiliate Marketing Online?
Let’s say you have a travel blog.
You love to write about all your trips. You get to relive those wondrous and adventurous moments.
PLUS, you get to share your experience with others who are planning on going to the same places.
Now, wouldn’t it be great if you could earn from doing that?
Enter affiliate marketing online.
This allows you to “team up” with a company, advertise their products, and earn a commission whenever something is sold through your efforts.
Through affiliate marketing, you can partner up with the likes of Expedia (imagine being a partner of the number one traveling agency in the world).
Here, you can recommend their hotels, car rentals, fun activities, and all that good stuff to your readers.
In turn, you can earn commissions.
Just check what Expendia offers in their affiliate program:
Of course, affiliate marketing is not limited to travel…
You can literally write about any niche, whether it’s makeup, software, education, sports, dog food — you name it.
And it’s not limited to just blogs, too.
You can promote the products through ads, your website, Instagram, Youtube, podcast, and the list goes on.
How Does Affiliate Marketing Online Work? - Understanding the Marketing System
As you noticed (or maybe you didn’t), there are 3 people involved in this marketing system.
- The merchant - This is a company, creator, brand that sells products. They want to advertise what they offer to a wider audience — so they create an affiliate program.
- The affiliate marketer - This is us. We want to earn income from our blog, website, social media, etc — so we join an affiliate program and promote their products/services with an affiliate link.
- The consumer - This is your audience. They read or watch your product promotion and are convinced that it is valuable to them — so they purchase the product through your link.
With this system, everyone is happy.
The merchant gets a sale - you earn commission - the consumer gets the product.
Yes, yes, but how does it work?
Let’s keep it simple:
When you join an affiliate program, you’re given a unique link with a tracking ID.
If someone clicks on that link, a cookie file is stored in their device for several days. So even if they purchase the item the next day, the referral (and commission) still goes to you.
The Benefits of Affiliate Marketing Online
Why should you do affiliate marketing?
Or maybe you’re wondering why affiliate marketing is so popular.
I’ll tell you why…
There are too many benefits to miss out on.
It’s Easy to Get Started
I don’t need to tell you that starting a business from scratch is HARD. Think of all the headaches of creating a product, supporting it, dealing with consumers, and (if you’re lucky) managing the orders.
With affiliate marketing, there’s already a product (maybe it’s even a well-known product).
All you need to do is join an affiliate program and start marketing the product.
Although, I won’t lie, it takes work to “market” that product.
It’s Low Risk
Here’s another thing about starting your own business: it’s expensive!
And imagine spending all that money for nothing.
Compare that with affiliate marketing that has almost no upfront investment.
If it works out, that’s EXCELLENT!
If it doesn’t work out, that’s okay, too. You’ll only waste your time and maybe a bit of money — nothing too extravagant.
What’s unique about affiliate marketing?
You don’t need to stick to one company’s products.
You can join as many affiliate programs as you want. You can earn commission from, say, a travel agency and a clothing brand at the same time.
I will say, though, it’s better to stick to one niche.
If you put in the work, you WILL earn more.
Rest assured your efforts of finding quality affiliate programs, building an audience that trusts you, creating engaging posts, doing SEO, and whatnot won’t go to waste.
Or, you can settle for little effort - little outcome (unless it’s a hundred-to-one shot).
You can simply pay for a few ads with your affiliate link, wait for someone to find it, click the link, and make a purchase.
Remember, affiliate marketing + work = more earnings.
It’s Passive Income (Eventually)
Yes, you need to put in the long hours.
Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
But it’s not forever.
If you’re diligent, you can watch the money flow in a few years.
And as you focus on other product campaigns, you can continuously earn from your previous ones.
How to Get Started with Affiliate Marketing Online - The 5 Steps to Success
Are you convinced yet?
If so, I’ll walk you through the 5 steps to success (and give you some personal tips along the way).
How to Get Started with Affiliate Marketing Online Step 1: CHOOSE. A. NICHE. THAT. INTERESTS. YOU.
I can’t stress this enough.
Because if not, it’s no different from dragging yourself out of bed to go to the stuffy workplace you hate.
We don’t want that…
So choose something you love.
Maybe you want to focus on traveling, like we talked about.
Or maybe you’re techy and into software or programs.
Still, maybe you’re more into fashion and jewelry.
Whatever interests YOU is the best kind of niche.
Personal Tip: Choose a specific niche. If you love exercise and want to write about that, it’s a good idea to be precise what type of exercise. This will work wonders for building an audience, and for SEO, too.
How to Get Started with Affiliate Marketing Online Step 2: Create a Platform (If You Don’t Already Have One)
No, affiliate marketing online isn’t just for blogs.
You can add your affiliate links anywhere — Google or Facebook ads, your Youtube channel, Instagram page, website, podcast, just to name a few.
Don’t know how to create a website? Then check out my FULL GUIDE video below:
Personal Tip: Look into the common types of affiliate marketing channels. This will show you what platforms work.
Right now, the top 2 channels are:
How to Get Started with Affiliate Marketing Online Step 3: Find an Affiliate Program
It’s time to look for your partners!
To do that, you can do one of the following (or all of them):
- Join an affiliate network/program. Many companies rely on these platforms as a sort of middle man. They are the intermediary between the company and affiliate (you).
Some reputable affiliate networks/programs that I highly recommend (and use) are ShareASale, CJ (Commission Junction), Impact, and - the most popular of all - Amazon Associates.
- Check if your favorite products or services offer an affiliate program. Maybe you love a certain hand lotion and want to recommend it to your audience — all while getting a commission for sales.
- Reach out to the company. If your favorite hand lotion doesn’t have an affiliate program — you can use the direct approach. Yes, actually talk to the company marketing team and tell them you’ll promote their product to your audience — for a commission.
They might accept. They might not. It’s worth the try.
Personal Tip: It’s best to promote high-quality products within your niche than just randomly promoting this product and that — all for the sake of earning more money.
Also, always read the fine print of an affiliate program. Trust me, you’ll want to know EXACTLY what they offer, what they expect from you, their terms of service, and all that.
You don’t want to go against their policies or get caught off guard.
How to Get Started with Affiliate Marketing Online Step 4: Make Engaging Content
Here’s the thing about affiliate marketing — you have to convince your audience to do 2 things:
- Click your affiliate link
- Perform an action (usually to purchase an item or subscribe to a trial)
That’s how you earn.
Well, if you make really boring content, I’m almost sure no one will bother going through it all — let alone click your link.
The same is true if you make your content very spammy, adding all kinds of links here and there.
Or, worse, forcing the product into people’s faces.
That’s a big NO-NO if you actually want conversions.
Instead, plan engaging content - something that will draw your audience in.
Something that will convince them that they need the product or service you’re promoting.
How in the world do you make engaging content?
I let you in on all the secrets, tips, and tricks here.
Personal Tip: Don’t go against the law! This is more a “MUST” rather than a “TIP”.
Yes, there are laws when it comes to affiliate marketing. You can check this article on the rules implemented by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
For one, you have to make your audience know that there are affiliate links added to the content. Do you ever wonder why some influencers always have an #AD at the start or end of their posts?
As for me, I add this short snippet at the beginning of each post.
Quick note! RealEstateLicenseTraining is partnered with the best real estate online schools. When you sign up using our links, we may get a small affiliate commission
How to Get Started with Affiliate Marketing Online Step 5: Drive Traffic To Your Affiliate Link
So you got your niche, your platform, your affiliate program, and your engaging content.
You need one last thing — traffic.
Whether you already have a following or not, here are some tried and tested strategies you can try out:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Is this you?
You want to search something on the internet.
You type in your keyword.
You click on only the first few pages that pop up.
You don’t bother checking the sites that you need to scroll down to (or those on the second page of the search engine).
As an affiliate marketer, you want your site to be one of the “first few pages that pop up”.
And good SEO strategies will take you there.
I know, I know — SEO can be a scary and overwhelming topic. But I simplified it for you in this article.
Here we go again.
Take this as a sign that engaging content is VERY important.
You can use the best strategies to bring traffic in — but if visitors aren’t impressed, they can just as easily exit and never come back.
What’s the point in bringing traffic in if you can’t even make them stay or come back?
And I won’t even get into the technicalities of high bounce rates and how that affects your SEO.
But here’s how Backlinko explains what bounce rates are:
Ahh yes, good ol’ social media…
The place where millions of people spend countless hours.
Also the place where you can get a LOT of traffic to your affiliate link.
Social media is a great way to build relationships, find communities that match your niche, share your blog content or affiliate links, and so much more!
The more active and helpful you are on there, the more people will want to check you out.
Trust me, this is a very effective way to get traffic — and I teach you how to use social media for affiliate marketing in this article.
I know what you’re thinking…
EMAIL?!?! Does anyone even check their emails anymore?
You’ll be surprised that emailing marketing is still one of the top methods.
But first, you need an email list.
The easiest way to get that is through an email provider.
Or, if your visitors are impressed, you can ask them to sign up or fill up a form to update them when new content is out.
Once you have your list, you can send them relevant and interesting emails that make them click on the link and check your site — or you can lead them directly to your affiliate link.
Types of Affiliate Marketing Online - And Which One You Should Pick
Pat Flynn, a successful affiliate marketer, classified affiliate marketing into 3 types.
I think it’s genius – and it will help you see what kind of affiliate marketer you should be if you want success.
First Up, There’s the Unattached Affiliate Marketing
Here’s how Pat Flynn explained it:
Sure, it might seem easier (and a lot quicker) to simply pay for ads and wait for money to flow in — there’s no commitment involved.
But, if you’re like the majority of people, ads get on your nerves.
Why do you think there’s such a thing as ad blockers?
On top of that, paid ads need to be — well, paid.
Are you willing to spend that money for just a small commission if someone does purchase through your ad?
Okay, yes, there are some people that are successful through this marketing type — take Peter Czepiga for example.
But again, you can’t build relationships and trust — the number one way to succeed in affiliate marketing.
Then We Have the Related Affiliate Marketing
Again, here’s how Pat Flynn describes this type:
I’m sure you’ve read articles like this…
…A listicle about “the best so-and-so products for so-and-so” with Amazon links attached to each product.
How many bets that the writer actually used all (or at least one) of those products?
But that’s fine.
This is actually the most common type of affiliate marketing.
And it can generate a decent-enough income.
Especially if you know how to write a good listicle article or how to write an informative product review.
Finally, We Have the Involved Affiliate Marketing (Note: This Is The One That Can Generate the Most Income)
Here’s how Pat Flynn puts it:
I’ll let you in on a secret — affiliate marketing success comes when you make it your mission to genuinely help people find the perfect product/service for them.
To do that, you need to know what you’re promoting.
Better yet, you need to love what you’re promoting.
Make it your responsibility to only recommend products or services that YOU trust — that YOU tried and tested and approved.
Yes, this type involves the most work - but it also generates the most income.
Frequently Asked Questions About Affiliate Marketing Online
How Do Affiliate Marketers Get Paid?
Depending on the affiliate program you join, you can get paid in 4 ways:
- Pay per sale - the merchant pays you a commission (a percentage or flat rate) if you’re able to get someone to purchase their products through your affiliate link.
- Pay per lead - This is similar to pay per sale. However, instead of purchasing something, you have to convince your audience to do an action, such as sign up for a trial, subscribe to a platform, fill up a form, etc.
- Pay per install - You earn compensation when you are able to convince your audience to install a software, app, file…
- Pay per click - The merchant pays you when you are able to direct traffic from your website to theirs. Some affiliate programs only pay when the consumer does an action (this is called cost-per-action). Other programs will pay you for every 100 clicks on your affiliate link.
This is why I always say — read the fine print.
When you know how you’ll get paid, you can work your campaign around that.
What is the Best Type of Affiliate Program?
So you’re looking for affiliate programs to join…
And you realize you have no idea what type of program is good for you.
Do you go for:
- High-volume, low-commission - The product/service you promote is a popular niche, but pays little.
- Low-volume, high-commission - The product/service you promote is only for a limited audience, but pays high commissions.
- High-volume, high-commission - The product/service you promote is a popular niche AND pays high.
This chart by Ahrefs is a great guide to help you determine the best program for YOU.
What Affiliate Marketing Tools Should I Use?
Glad you asked.
I made a video regarding all the affiliate marketing tools I use and fully recommend.
For the short answer, here is my list:
- KWFinder - keyword research
- Ahrefs - overall site SEO
- Yoast SEO - on-page SEO
- Thrive Architect - web design and quizzes
- Hemingway App - spicing up content
Is Affiliate Marketing Legal?
Yes! Affiliate marketing is 100% legal — that’s if you stay within the “legal” realm.
What do I mean?
Remember, there are a few rules set by the FTC about affiliate link disclosures. You should always comply with these laws.
On top of that, certain states and countries implement other rules. You can read about them here.
As for social media platforms, it’s also a good idea to see if they set any rules for influencers and affiliate marketers.
How Much Do Affiliate Marketers Earn?
Finally, the question that was probably on your mind this whole time.
Unfortunately, there’s no one answer.
As I said, your earnings will depend on how much work you put in.
However, if you’re diligent, you will enjoy passive income in a few years.
Proof of point, check out my CJ commissions for January 2023 alone:
Are You Ready To Get Started with Affiliate Marketing Online?
Now that you know all you need to know about affiliate marketing online…
It’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to work.
Remember, your goal shouldn’t be to earn passive income — that’s just the result.
Your goal is to build relationships and trust with your audience. From there, they will look to you for high-quality recommendations.
If you have any questions, just hit me up in the comments and I’ll make sure to get to you.