Affiliate Marketing For Beginners – How Affiliate Marketing Works

You’ve probably heard of affiliate marketing several time but you still aren’t clear on what it is and how it works. In this post I will explain in detail why affiliate marketing if one of my favorite strategies to earn money online. I will also explain how you could get into affiliate marketing and finally start earning an income off the internet. I’ve recently made a video on this very subject, feel free to watch it as well.

What Is Affiliate Marketing?

In short affiliate marketing is the process of earning a commission by promoting someone else’s product or service. For example, you find a product that you like, you recommend it to a friend and when that friend buys the product you receive a part of the money that was spent on that product. You are basically the middleman between a seller and a buyer.

Sounds simple enough right? But what kind of products can you promote? You can promote pretty much every product and service you can think of. Most retailers either run their own affiliate program or use an affiliate platform in for it. One of the biggest retailers with an affiliate program is Amazon. In fact offering an affiliate program has helped Amazon to become the world’s biggest marketplace. Walmart has an affiliate program. You favorite airline has an affiliate program and even iTunes has an affiliate program.

All reputable affiliate programs are absolutely free to join. If you are asked to pay money in order to join an affiliate program then you might be getting scammed. You shouldn’t be forced to spend money in order to have the right to promote a product or a service.

How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?

Now that you know what affiliate marketing is you might be wondering how exactly it works. How does Amazon know that you earned a commission? Should you trust affiliate programs with payments? These are legit questions and the answer is rather simple.

Affiliate programs will create your own unique links to products. When you simply tell someone to buy a fridge on Amazon, of course you won’t get credited since Amazon has no way of knowing that you sent them a customer. However if you grab your own affiliate link and send a customer to Amazon through that link, Amazon will credit the sale to you. It gets even better. If you sent someone (through your affiliate link) to Amazon to buy a book but they ended up buying a fridge and car tires and 3 t-shirts and a load of cleaning supplies – you will get a commission on all of these sales. These tracking links are very reliable and you shouldn’t worry about it. All reputable companies that offer affiliate programs will not try to rip you off. You are helping them make money after all and they appreciate that.

Affiliate Marketing Explained


How Much Does Affiliate Marketing Pay?

Affiliate commissions on physical products are typically between 2% and 10%, depending on the seller, products, your performance and a few other things. Many digital products can offer much higher commissions since the cost of production is very low. For example a platform that sells online courses, ebooks and software might offer you 50%-75%+ commissions. If this is something that could interest you then you should look into platforms like Clickbank. I earned a lot of money with them in 2007 and 2008 but when the economy crashed people stopped buying info products. I still promote services and tools that I personally use. For example if you buy the Divi theme (website theme that I am using for this blog) for $70, I will earn $35.

It’s important to note that the price of the product for the buyer will NOT go up because there is no a commission involved. In fact sometimes affiliates are able to offer exclusive discounts and actually reduce the price (or increase the value) for the buyer. If you open up a MailChimp account through my discount link and load it with $10 I will receive a $30 credit on my MailChimp account. You will also receive a $30 credit! If you join MailChimp directly through their home page and spent $10, you will not get a $30 credit. In this case a buyer is actually much better off by going through an affiliate link.


Where Does Affiliate Marketing Work?

Since affiliate marketing is internet based it is available pretty much everywhere in the world. Regardless of which country you live in you can join most affiliate programs in your country and other countries as well. As far as I know, (USA) does accept affiliate from all countries. However Amazon Mexico only allows residents of Mexico to become affiliates. This means that Mexican affiliates actually have an advantage in their own country when it comes to affiliate marketing. My point is that you could be an affiliate marketers regardless of where you live.

Make Money with affiliate marketing


How Do You Promote Products As An Affiliate?

As I mentioned earlier, your affiliate program will supply you with your own links in order to track your sales. But what do you do with these links? How do you promote them?

There are several ways to approach this. You can start a Youtube channel and create videos. You can then add your affiliate links in the video description. If you have ever watched a “review” video on Youtube, that person probably used an affiliate link in the description. If you ended up purchasing the product after watching the video – that Youtuber earned a commission.

You can also do that on social media. A few months ago I spotted a few amazing deals on Amazon so I posted my affiliate links on Facebook and earned a quick $70 the same day and about $150 total in a weekend. It took me 5 minutes to grab my affiliate links and post them on Facebook. You can read the full story here but I’m sure you get the point.

However the best way of earning a living with affiliate marketing is definitely starting your own blog. I’ve met hundreds of people who are earning $5,000-$10,000-$100,000 per month through affiliate marketing. Of course they didn’t start earning this much from day one but they grew their blogs to that level with time. You shouldn’t worry about the technical aspect of starting a blog as it’s never been as easy as it is now. You can have your blog set up in less than a minute and completely free of charge.

Once you set up your blog you’ll need to start writing interesting content and publishing it on your site (blog). Within that content you’ll add your affiliate links to relevant products or services. Just like I added links to Divi and Mailchimp earlier in this very article. You might think that you suck at writing or that you’re not very good at English – I get it. I used to hate writing and it used to take me 8 hours to write a short 500 word article. English is also my 4th language. However practice makes perfection. The more you write – the better you get at it.


How Do You Get Paid As An Affiliate

I get this question asked on daily basis. You shouldn’t worry about that unless you’re already earning money. However, I know you are curious so here is the answer. Different companies have different payment methods. Amazon for example pays by check, gift cards or direct deposit. If you’re working with Amazon USA and you live outside of US they won’t be able to offer you a direct deposit so they’ll send you a check. Some companies even pay by Paypal (which I prefer).

You might also be wondering how you’ll be paying taxes on your affiliate earning. This is a question for your accountant. I’ll tell you this though, earning money online still counts as an income and governments are getting very good at tracking where the money comes from and where it’s going. If your country requires you to pay income taxes then you’ll be declaring your affiliate earnings as income (because it is a real income). This is also something that you should not even think about unless you’re already making money as an affiliate.


Affiliate Marketing Training

When I started my affiliate marketing adventure in 2007 I was completely new to all of this. Making websites? Writing content? Using links? Getting traffic? I didn’t understand any of it. I’ve stumbled upon a lot of programs that promised to make me a rich affiliate overnight and I admit that I fell for some of these scams. At some point I was ready to give up the idea of making money online and this is when I stumbled upon this training. I promised myself that this would be the last program I pay for. Almost 10 years later I am still a member with these guys! Another great news is that unlike in 2007, you can join their basic training completely free. This way you’ll be able to see if the training is right for you, without risking a single penny (put your credit card away).

You’ll get step-by-step training, loads of education, help and support from thousands of members and even the owners of the platform and a lot more. I’ve been making a living online since 2007 because of this program and this is the reason I recommend them so highly. Check out my full review here if you want training.


Questions? Anything to add? Use the comment box below!


13 thoughts on “Affiliate Marketing For Beginners – How Affiliate Marketing Works”

  1. hei Mulenga again
    i forgot to mention that i’m based in the Southern part of Africa , Zambia to be specific . so i’m kind of skeptical if this could actually work over here??

  2. Hei Alex
    i’m readind this article in April 2019 and i find it extremely interesting and i’m interested in starting to learn about affiliate marketing. how do i get the free training?

    1. Hi Filip.

      When we talk about SEO we really mean traffic. If you get targeted traffic to your website you make commissions. How will you get that traffic though? SEO? PPC? Social Media? That’s up to you.

      In my case SEO plays a major part in my earnings since most of my traffic comes from search engines.


  3. I’m quite new to this affiliate marketing business, just got into it a few months ago. I’m just wondering though, I see these bloggers with like 25k followers on social media…how do they get that many ppl to follow them? do ppl just come to their website and click on their social media follow links and build it that way over time? or is it some kind of spam?

    1. Hey Kent.

      Building a social media following is similar to building a business. You need to provide value and you need to be very active online and people will follow you. One of my Instagram accounts has 12,000+ authentic followers because people love the content I post for that niche.

      It takes time and effort to build a responsive fan base. Some Youtubers with 1M+ subscribers told me it took them 6 years to get from 0 to 10k and it took just a year to go from 10k to 1Million. Time and effort 😉

  4. This is a really detailed article on affiliate marketing, and if you didn’t know what it was, after reading this you will know.

    I have heard it is difficult to be accepted by some of these programs as affiliates, Amazon being on of them.

    Also once you are accepted, how easy is it to understand how to use the platform and get your affiliate links working in the proper way?

    1. Hi Michel.

      It is true that more and more affiliate networks are harder to join. In the sense that you need to have a real website with good content in order to apply and be accepted.

      Using their programs is actually rather straight forward. Many provide free tutorials and if that’s not enough you can always search Youtube and you’ll always find your answer 😉


  5. Hello, Alex. Thanks for so comprehensive article about affiliate marketing. There always will be some details which need to be explained by experienced marketer.
    I wonder how beginners can choose products as targets for marketing? Do they need to follow their passion or research for products which are popular and in the high demand?
    You are right that Amazon is great place for affiliate marketers. There are so much various products. Everybody can find niche and way promoting items on Amazon. When somebody is successful as Amazon affiliate, he or she can move to other places such as ClickBank or Rakuten Affiliate Network.
    Thanks for the great read, I feel that I need to expand my knowledge about affiliate marketing. Your website is a great place to do it.
    All the best, Nemira.

    1. Thank you for reading Nemira.

      Now the million-dollar question is always “which niche do I pick?”. I think finding a very profitable niches is one of the biggest challenges in the business of affiliate marketing.

      Personally I am an advocate of working with products that you are passionate about or at least have some sort of knowledge with. I just find it so much easier to create content in an industry that you enjoy. However, you must be realistic as well. If you are passionate about a specific niche and there are only 14 other people passionate about it, maybe it isn’t worth the effort.

      In the end it has to be a balance of passion and demand.


      1. I’d love to get in to something like this this would be the perfect time not being able to work and all I love the out doors hunting fishing camping I love love it all and know a great deal bout it but there is nothing like it out there just have no clue how to get started we just got slammed by 2 huge harricanes unable to work could u give me any help at all to get a

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