February 20, 2022

What is affiliate marketing? 

How does it work?

And can you really make money in your sleep with it? 

Welcome to Affiliate Marketing 101, where we’ll go over ALL the basics of affiliate marketing. 

This lesson was made for two types of people:

  1. People who have heard about making money with affiliate marketing, but aren’t sure exactly how it all works, and
  2. People who already know about affiliate marketing, but want to have a solid foundation moving forward

If you’re one of those, buckle up because we’re going back to basics!

Shall we?

This post is part of our free series on Affiliate Marketing! If you want to learn everything from A – Z in one place, then check out our course below! 

What Affiliate Marketing is NOT

But before we jump into the details, here’s something you MUST know straight out:

Affiliate marketing is NOT a way to get rich quick. 

There are dozens of e-books, videos, and “training programs” out there that portray affiliate marketing as a way to earn money fast. 

If you’ve ever joined an “affiliate marketing” Facebook group, you’ll be bombarded with a bazillion spammy posts and comments. 


If you can’t already tell by how vague and spammy that post looks – none of these are REAL affiliate marketing. 

The methods they teach don’t work (trust me, I’ve tried them). And their only purpose is to gain a buck from you. 

So what is real affiliate marketing you ask?

Let’s find out. 

What Is Affiliate Marketing? The Basic Business Model

The affiliate marketing business model goes a bit something like this…

What Is Affiliate Marketing? The Basic Business Model

The most common way successful affiliate marketers earn their commissions is by developing an information based website that attracts free search engine traffic. 

Upon attracting those free search engine visitors, you can make product or service recommendations or place other forms of advertising on your website. 

Anytime one of your visitors makes a purchase through an “advertisement” on your website, you collect a percentage commission of the sale. 

So, to make this more clear, let’s use a real-world example: 

I own a website called RealEstateLicenseTraining.com (RELT for short)

On that website, I help people find the best online real estate license courses – either by reviewing the courses, comparing the prices, or just giving real estate tips and mentioning these courses on the side. 

Many aspiring realtors will research for tips or seek out the best licensing course they can get in their state. That’s why the content I have on my site is on-demand. 

Lots of people are searching for that information in the search engines. And this brings RELT thousands of visitors every month. 

Now, once I have that traffic, I can then pre-sell my sites visitors. In other words, I can supply such great information that they grow to trust me and the information I’m giving. 

That way, when I recommend they should get their real estate education from Real Estate Express, some of them listen. And When I send buyers to Real Estate Express, I receive a commission on their entire purchase. 

I even boldly state that if they use my special affiliate link and make a purchase, I earn a commission. Every day, people do ME the favor of using my affiliate link so I get a commission. All because I “pre-sold” them by providing valuable in-demand content. 

In the end, it’s a win-win situation for everyone. 

RELT visitors win because they became well informed about real estate license courses and end up with the best license course. They get to skip the pain of ending up with an old-fashioned, buggy, and downright awful course. 

Real Estate Express wins because I sent them some additional business. 

And, of course, I win because I earned a commission on something even though I was in bed sleeping!

The CTPM Process – The System that Most Legit Affiliate Marketers Use

If you’ve never heard of the CTPM process before, It’s the business strategy that Wealthy Affiliate teaches. And it’s the system we here at Affiliate Marketer Training use for all our websites as well. 

In short, CTPM stands for:

  • Content
  • Traffic
  • Pre-Sell

Let’s break it down. 


Content is the bread and butter of affiliate marketing. 

Good content is the foundation on which everything else is built. 

If you look at every single successful affiliate marketing website, you’ll find that they ALWAYS have great content. 

It’s that important. 

However, I see way too many new affiliate marketers getting it all wrong. 

Instead of providing valuable content for their readers, they try to force their partner’s products down their throats. 

This is a BIG mistake.

Affiliate marketing content is NOT advertising. 

It’s about providing value to your audience. 

Instead of saying “This is the BEST real estate course,” we say things like “Here is why Real Estate Express is a good choice, and here is why it is not.” 

When people see good, honest, and unbiased content like this, they are drawn to trust you. 

Which will bring you lots of…


Good content drives in traffic. 

Of course, there’s a lot that goes on between those two steps. 

But we’re doing basics here, remember?

If you provide your audience with awesome content – content that’s better than everything else on the internet – then naturally, you’ll gain LOTS of traffic on your website. 

Your posts will rank #1 on search engines (thanks to SEO), and you’ll also get shares on social media and forums. 


When you have an audience, the next step is to pre-sell. 


By over-delivering. 

People go to your website because they’re looking for answers. 

Perhaps they want to know how to get a real estate license in their particular state?

Well, one way to pre-sell is to give the best answer to that question, and then take it a step further by recommending a great course. 


Only once you have good traffic do you monetize. 

That’s right. 

You’re not going to earn a single cent from this business until you’ve created a bunch of awesome content, gained the trust of your audience, and over-delivered to them. 

Only once you’ve done all that should you start affiliate partnerships with companies and start gaining commisions!

Why You Should Use the CTPM Process

The CTPM process is the only proven process that I’ve ever seen work, especially for those on a budget who don’t have thousands of dollars to pay for traffic through advertising methods.

Many people who use this method prefer to call themselves “Infopreneurs” because they essentially earn their living by providing high quality information for free on the internet.

Find out how to turn your hobbies, passions, and interests into an affiliate marketing career – because no matter what they are, there is most likely a way to monetize it. 

Just make sure you don’t jump straight into the monetizing part!

How Long Does It Take To Become Successful At Affiliate Marketing?

As I mentioned earlier, earning money as an affiliate marketer is not a get rich quick process. 

If you’ve read the about me section on this site, you’ll see that it took me all of 6 months to start earning revenue. And a whole year before I could quit my job and do this full time.  

Within 18 months of starting my affiliate business, I was earning over $9,000 per month. So, I’m not saying this has to take years and years of work, but what I am saying is expect to put in some time and a lot of effort before you can expect to become successful.

We’ll take a closer look at this on a future lesson, but always remember you’re not going to see any earnings for at least 6 months (maybe longer!). 

The Beauty of Affiliate Marketing

My opinion about affiliate marketing is pretty consistent. I think it is a complete game changer for entrepreneurship. 

Never before has an opportunity like this existed to the masses. I just can’t fathom why EVERYONE isn’t trying to do this. 

There is plenty of room for many more affiliate marketers and there’s no reason 99% of the population should be afraid to at least give it a try. Here’s why…

  • You can easily start a legitimate affiliate marketing business for less than $50 (and I’m being pretty liberal with that figure).
  • There is no reason to quit your day job or “risk everything” to start an affiliate business.
  • You can start your business in as little as 10hrs per week.
  • You don’t have to sell any of your own products, so you never deal with customer service, storage, office rentals, shipping, order processing, employees, etc.
  • The income you will be generating is RESIDUAL!

I can keep going (for a loooong time, actually), but I want to hammer down that last point:

By starting an affiliate business, you will be building RESIDUAL INCOME. 

What does that mean, exactly? 

It means you get paid whether you’re actually working or not. 

Every website I build earns me revenue whether on I’m working or not. I can go on vacation for a month and my income will not drop. The same checks will be waiting for me when I get back. 

Here’s me on my trip to the Grand Tetons last May:

Every morning when I get up, the first thing I do is check my phone to see how much money I made overnight. 

Residual income is the ultimate in freedom. No longer will you get paid for your time. With residual income, your time becomes separate from how you get paid. Not even doctors and lawyers can say that.

Amazing, right?!

Sure, But Is Affiliate Marketing Really Possible For Anyone?

Yes! Well, almost. If I had to hire someone to be an affiliate marketer for me, these would be my requirements…

  • Willing to work at least 10 hours per week for 6 to 12 months before receiving payment (exponential residual lifetime income with unlimited vacation days thereafter).
  • Ability to work from home or any other place with an internet connection.
  • Be willing to learn a lot in a short period of time and have the patience keep going when the going gets tough.
  • Understand how to use “mistakes” as learning experiences and grow from them, instead of getting down.
  • Ability to work independently with no supervision whatsoever.
  • Have average writing skills.
  • Have a particular skill, knowledge, or interest that you would be willing to learn more about and teach to others.
  • The desire to never fight rush hour traffic or sit in a cubicle again.

Ok, I added that last one for fun. 

But in all seriousness, if you start learning how to become an affiliate marketer today, you can have a website by next week. 

But don’t assume that website will earn you any income for about 6 to 12 months. That’s just how long it takes. 

In that 6 to 12 months, you’ll be learning A LOT. 

You’ll learn things like how to put together a nice looking website, how to write good content, how search engines work, how to properly market to your site visitors, where to place advertising on your site, and about 1,000 more things. You must have the patience to learn, because the learning curve never stops.

It’s inevitable that you will make mistakes. Rookies in any industry do. So you also must be able to turn “mistakes” and negatives into positives. You always learn something from mistakes. The trick is to never let those mistakes stand in your way.


“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”

– Winston Churchill


And finally, understand that while you won’t get paid immediately for your efforts, everything you work on is residual income potential. 

Something you work on today could earn you thousands of dollars for years to come. Plus, once you’re finished building one site, you can build another, and another, and another. 

Soon enough, you have built so much residual income that you’re swimming in more cash you ever thought possible.

And that’s the beauty of affiliate marketing (and residual income).

How To Get Started In Affiliate Marketing

There are two different places I highly recommend you start. As someone who has been through lots of scammy affiliate marketing courses, I want to steer you in the right direction.

If you have $29 / month to spend on your business, I highly recommend going with Wealthy Affiliate. That is the exact service I used to start my affiliate marketing business, hence the reason I’m so eager to recommend them.

The reason I recommend them is because they teach legitimate business, not some new get rich quick method of the month. 

On top of that, they don’t just have a training program (although their 10 day training program is the best I’ve ever seen). The huge perk to using them is that everything you need to grow an online business is included “in house.”

For example, you aren’t going to have to sign up for web hosting. Registering a domain name won’t cost you extra. 

Instead of paying another service for a “keyword research tool” (something you’ll want), you can use the fantastic tool provided with your subscription. Most keyword research tools themselves cost over $40 / month. 

Don’t know how to build a website? Included in their price is a super simple “drag and drop” website creator. You don’t need to know a single line of computer code. 

In all, you’ll get over 80 tools to use, all for the same price, and they offer a 90 day money back guarantee (you can even keep the domain name if you’re not happy with them). I still have 5 subscriptions with them to this day. Been with them for years.


If you’re looking for a FREE resource to get up and running, well… you’re already here! 

This is chapter 1, lesson 1 of my very own free affiliate marketing course, where my team and I will show you how to go from aspiring affiliate marketer into a 6-figure affiliate marketer the REAL way. 

That’s right. 

No shortcuts, no spam, and NO get-rich-quick ideas. 

So if you’re ready to take the next step, head over to lesson 2 and let’s see how much money you can actually earn from affiliate marketing!

  Back to Free Course  Next Lesson ->


This post is part of our free series on Affiliate Marketing! If you want to learn everything from A – Z in one place, then check out our course below! 

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