How Does Affiliate Marketing Really Work?

How Does Affiliate Marketing Really Work? A Simple Guide

Affiliate marketing is growing in popularity. As jobs disappear and the average household income shrinks people are looking for ways to earn more money. They are also seeking freedom to get back to a life that is varied and full. They want to be secure, they want to be happy!  

How is that possible and where do you start?

Affiliate marketing is the starting point for 99% of people that want to make money outside of their regular job. Passive income is usually the end goal, the dream is to make money while you sleep. That is the reason most of us begin!

The idea is that you set up systems promoting other people’s products and services and you get paid commissions for doing it. If you get this right it literally is while you sleep! 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

But what is affiliate marketing and how does it really work?

Affiliate marketing in simple terms is a transaction between a business owner and a marketer and that results in commissions for successfully promoting a product.

The product owner wants to increase their marketing activity and produce more sales. They decide that the best way to do this is to set up a network of people that will complete marketing activities for them to drive more traffic to their products to increase sales. In exchange they will give the “promoter” or “marketer” a commission for that sale.

And it isn’t just big companies that work this model! Of course you can be an affiliate for a massive company like Amazon but you can also choose to work with individuals that have products or services they want to share.

The pieces of the puzzle

The merchant is the party that creates the product for sale. They are sometimes called the vendor, the seller, the brand or the retailer. 

The Affiliate: The affiliate is also known as the publisher, they are effectively the middle man between the merchant and the consumer. Affiliates can be single individuals or entire companies.  They can produce a few hundred pounds in commissions each month or tens of millions. There literally is no limit once you learn how to get results.

The Consumer: The consumer or customer is the piece that makes it all work! Without sales, there aren’t any commissions to hand out and there is revenue to be shared.

How do affiliate marketers promote the products?

They promote in an endless amount of ways blogs, youtube, podcasts and social media are the popular ones. The aim is simply to get eyeballs that will be interested on the offers that you are promoting.

People will advertise wherever groups of target customers are likely to congregate. The aim is to know what people like, find where they hang out and work out how to get them to listen to you. Then use that influence to drive them to products you are promoting.

Do affiliates just promote one thing?

It’s down to the affiliate to choose. Some choose just one product (this is quite rare) but most choose to have a portfolio or a suite of products that they share.

Affiliates should also look at the terms of the merchant to check out their rules around promotion of their products before they put the effort into producing the content to promote.

I promote a range of products as I help others through this blog. One of my favourites is this FREE 30 day affiliate marketing bootcamp.

How do I become an affiliate marketer?

Getting set up is really straight forward but getting results does take some work!

Setting up as an affiliate marketer is relatively simple but getting enough traffic (these are the visitors or the eyeballs on your offers) can take time. You need to generate a lot of traffic to get and meaningful and measurable results.

4 Simple Steps To Get Started

  1. Choose a market that you are interested in, do some research, explore what is out there and then start to focus on a particular niche.
  2. Start to produce some content through a medium that interests you. This could be a blog, a podcast or through video’s on Youtube. Share some thoughts about the things you are are finding out while doing the research in your chosen niche. It doesn’t have to be complicated at this point. The idea is just to start connecting with people that are interested in the same things that you are going to be promoting. 
  3. Start to collect emails and build up an email list,  choose one type of social media strategy and learn how to do it properly
  4. Choose your affiliate offers and start to work the products into the content you are producing.

Scale up

Once you are starting to get some results you can explore other strategies including solo adds, banner ads, google ads, facebook ads etc.

These methods of advertising have the potential of burning through money pretty quickly if you do not know what you are doing.

I would recommend getting comfortable with your strategy and approach by nailing the 4 simple steps above first. Once results start to come you can then think about moving on to these pay per click strategies. 


This industry offers a challenging but rewarding way to get started. If you are interested then I would recommend setting aside some time to give it a go.

You should be prepared to put in some work though because it isn’t a case of get rich quick. Focus, passion and determination are all needed to succeed. 

I have been very fortunate to build an online income over the past few years, if this is something you’d like to do too you can see here exactly how I make money from this blog.

Something more

If you enjoyed reading this blog post (a like would be appreciated!) here are some others that you may find interesting:

Online Marketing – What do you want to be when you grow up?

Online Business – 3 Ways To Prosper In A Challenging Economic Climate

What Are The Chances Of Success In An Affiliate Marketing Opportunity?

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