What is Affiliate Marketing and How To Get Started

One term you are more likely to see again and again in the digital marketing era is affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is a great way to make passive income on the side of your full-time job. It can even help you quit your full-time job and you can start living the life of your dreams.

Affiliate marketing is a multi-billion USD industry and it will continue to grow as businesses want more and more affiliate marketers to promote their products. According to Influencer Marketing Hub, global affiliate marketing spending will rise further to $15.7 billion in 2024.

In this guide, we will explain everything from what is affiliate marketing to how you can start it and the challenges you will face throughout your affiliate marketing journey.

What is Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is a result-driven marketing strategy used by businesses to promote their product. Individuals or entities, known as affiliates promote a product or service of a business and only get paid when they make a sale or generate a lead for that business.

If you are new to affiliate marketing let me give you an overview of how it works.

How does Affiliate Marketing work


First, find an affiliate program you want to join. Look at their payment method, commission rate, cookie duration, conversion rate, etc.

Sign up for the affiliate program and wait for acceptance. Once accepted they will provide you with their own unique affiliate link. These links monitor the traffic and sales generated by you.

Create content on the product or service you are promoting and embed your affiliate link with the content. Content can be in various forms such as Blog posts, reviews, videos, emails, and social media posts.

Once a person clicks on your affiliate link that person will be redirected to the business or merchant website and the action will be tracked by the affiliate tracking system including the tracking of sales or generating leads.

When the person then buys the product or service you will get a commission. The commission may be a percentage of a sale or a fixed amount.

There is also a minimum payout level. This means that you cannot transact your money until you reach that payout level.

The role of merchants, affiliates, and consumers.

There are three main key components in affiliate marketing. Let’s discuss each one by one.


Merchants are the businesses, companies, or sellers that create the product or service. They set up the affiliate program to attract affiliates who are willing to promote their product or services.


Affiliates are independent marketers, influencers, or website owners. They act as a middleman between the merchant and the consumer. They partner with the merchant to promote their product or service and start creating content that can drive traffic and conversion.


The consumer is the end user of affiliate marketing. Without the consumer, the affiliates do not get the commission. Affiliates have to create content that encourages the consumer to make a purchase.

Benefits of Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing has multiple benefits. Affiliate marketing not only benefits the merchant but also benefits the affiliates and consumers as well. Let’s explore the benefits of affiliate marketing.

Benefits for Merchant

Cost-Effective: Merchants only have to pay affiliates when they complete the required action like making a sale or generating a lead. This makes affiliate marketing extremely cost-effective for merchants to drive traffic and generate sales rather than advertising.

Expeneded Reach: Affiliates expose the product to a huge audience before someone makes a purchase giving the product an expanded reach.

Targeted Audience: Affiliates often have specific audiences and when a product is introduced to them there is a much higher chance people will buy it because of the audience’s interest in the product.

Reducing Risk: Merchants can reduce the risk of losing money in the advertisement because in affiliate marketing money is spent only when the required task is completed and affiliates give the product or service a lot of exposure before making a sale or generating a lead. This makes affiliate marketing more effective compared to traditional advertisement.

Benefits for Affiliates

Passive Income: Affiliates make money while they sleep. Once they create and promote their content about a product, that content continues to grow and affiliates continue to get commissions without continuous efforts.

No Inventory: Affiliates do not need to invest in product development or an inventory of that product. They also do not need to worry about the fulfillment process, all these will be done by the merchant.

Monetization opportunity: Individuals or entities with a large sum of audience will have the opportunity to monetize their content. If an individual creates content about camping he can promote products related to camping like tents, sleeping bags, etc.

Benefits for Consumers

Informed Purchase: Affiliates create detailed and informed content about a product helping the consumers to make an informed decision.

Discount: Consumers may access discounts by purchasing the product through the affiliate marketing link, making the consumer save money.

How to Become an Affiliate Marketer

Here are the 5 Steps to becoming an affiliate marketer.

Research and Choose a Niche

Choosing a niche is crucial for starting an affiliate marketing. I would suggest you choose a specific niche instead of choosing the niche “food” you can narrow it down and be specific and choose a niche like “vegan food”. You can also make it more narrow and choose a niche like “easy cook vegan food”.

Why is choosing a niche important?

Choosing a niche is important for the following reasons:

  • 1). You will have an audience of specific interest who will share a common interest and will be more likely to respond to the affiliate link.
  • 2).  It becomes easier for you to create high-quality content.
  • 3). You will have a competitive advantage and you will take less time to become an authority in that niche.
  • 4). You can create a content cluster around your niche in less time to help in improving SEO.

How to choose a niche?

While choosing a niche you have to think about it from a business perspective. You have to study market demand, competition in that niche, and monetization opportunities.

You should choose a niche that is less competitive and has a high or medium search volume. Research whether the niche you are choosing has already successful affiliate marketer or not.

Study market demand before choosing a niche. If you are passionate and interested in “fidget spinners” and start creating content about it I think it will not work because the market demand for it has gone a long time ago.

Fidget spinner trend

Look for the affiliate programs in that niche. Look for an affiliate program that has high volume and low commission or low volume and high commission because these a best for beginners. Once you become an authority in your niche you can also target extremely competitive affiliate programs that have high volume and high commission.

Choose a Platform

Choose a platform you want to create content on and promote your affiliate links. You can promote your affiliate link on almost any platform you want but I would suggest you start creating content on your own website.

To start your own website all you need to do is to buy a domain name and a hosting and you are good to go.

Once your content starts ranking on Google it will stay in the top position for a long time and you can make passive income in affiliate revenue for an extensive amount of time.

You can also start it on social media but there is a problem with that, social media platforms are designed to promote fresh content means once your content gets older it will start to rank low.

But the most important thing is where your audience is. If your audience is on YouTube you should start it on YouTube. Similarly, if they are on TikTok or Instagram you should it on that but if you have no audience and you are just starting, I would recommend you to start affiliate marketing on your own website.

Note: You have to disclose whenever there is an affiliate link according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Join Affiliate Program

Once you have reached a good amount of traffic start applying for an affiliate program in your niche.

When applying for a program carefully read the terms and conditions of the program and remember the following aspects.

Commission rate and search volume

Take a look at the commission rate, and search volume of the program. Based on the commission rate and search volume there are three main types of affiliate programs.

Low commission and high volume: This type of affiliate program are good for beginners and professional both. This includes companies like Amazon. The commission may be low but the search volume and conversion rates are high. The good thing about Amazon is that they pay commissions for everything a consumer buys in 24 hours once the consumer enters Amazon at your link.

High commission and low volume: These affiliate programs are also good for beginners because you only have to do fewer sales for a good amount of money. An example of this program is luxury products like jewelry and most SaaS companies.

High Commission and high volume: These affiliate programs are highly competitive. Examples of these programs are credit cards

Which affiliate program should you choose?

You should choose low-commission and high-volume programs if you are targeting consumers and if you are targeting businesses you should choose the high-commission and low-volume programs.

Cookies duration

The cookie’s duration can vary from business to business. It can be as short as 24 hours and as long as 30 days. The more cookies duration means more time to convert your audience.

Brand reputation

Brand reputation is important because if a brand has lost its reputation and you start promoting its products even though you bring traffic to their website the traffic will not convert because of the brand reputation.

Create Quality Content

Quality is better than quantity. Poor content will not convert traffic into consumers. You have to work smartly, and place links in places where you know there will be a high chance of people clicking on it.

Your headline is the first thing a person will see. You have to write an attention-grabbing and relevant headline to the content of the post. 

Here are some tips to write a good headline:

  • 1). Capitalize the first letter of each word.
  • 2). Write a headline using less than 60 characters because after that it will not be shown in the SERP
  • 3). Use long tail keywords (3 to 5 Words)
  • 4). Use odd numbers instead of even because odd number gets more clicks than even numbers.

You have to create original content that is informative and which gives value to the audience. Conduct comprehensive research before writing a blog post or creating a video for YouTube. Use stats and data in your content and provide reputable sources and evidence to support your claim.

Use visuals, charts, and infographics in your blog post because a picture is worth 1,000 words. Picture also gets a lot of shares thus giving more exposure to your content.

Proofread the blog post and make sure there is no grammatical mistake or spelling mistake. You can use grammar-checking tools like Grammarly to correct that mistake for you directly.

Link out to other relevant content on your website or YouTube to give them exposure and keep your audience engaged.

Try to create content on evergreen and trendy topics because evergreen topics will provide traffic to your website for an extended period of time while trendy topics lose all the traffic when the trend dies. The good thing is that you can make a lot of fortune out of the trend before it dies out.

Update your content every 6 months to make sure to stay in top place.

Here are some common types of affiliate content:

Product review: These are the types of posts in which you review a product or service.

An example of a product review post is the SEMrush review (2023).

List Post: In this, you rank and review a product or service in a list.

An example of a list post is the 5 best podcast hosting sites.

Product Comparison: In this type of post you compare two or more products with each other.

An example of a product comparison post is the SEMrush vs. Moz vs. Ahrefs.

Note: Make sure to include affiliate disclosure according to FTC regulations.

Drive Traffic and Promote

Drive traffic to your website by promoting your blog posts. Once you write a few articles it’s time to promote your website. Promoting your articles is necessary to attract an audience so they can become a customer.

You have to rank your article in the SERP to get more organic traffic.

Here are some ways to promote and drive traffic to your website:

SEO: It is the main and the most important part of driving traffic to your website. SEO is crucial for organic traffic.

There are two types of SEO, On-page SEO and off-page SEO.

On-page SEO is the one which we optimize on our website such as internal linking to relevant articles, website speed, making the website mobile friendly, having an SSL certificate, image optimization, and more.

Off-page SEO is more like building relations with other websites in your niche.

Social Media: Promoting your article on social media is a great way to bring traffic to your site but the SEO still stands first because of the organic traffic. Social media platforms are designed to promote fresh content and if your article traffic is coming from social media will lose all the traffic in a while.

Email Marketing: Build a list of your subscriber email through a newsletter. Send out a promotional email that includes affiliate product recommendations.

PPC: Run an advertisement campaign known as PPC to bring traffic to your website.

5 Tips for Success Affiliate Marketing

Here are 5 tips to find success in affiliate marketing.

Choose a Reputable Program

Choose an affiliate program that has a good reputation. If the company has a poor reputation and you brought a lot of traffic to its website, you still won’t make any money because the conversion rate would be less due to its poor reputation and less conversion means less profit.

You should join the Amazon affiliate program even though the commission rate is less but the conversion ratio is high due to their good reputation.

Create Valuable Content

Create valuable, informative, high-quality, and engaging content. It will build trust, and authority and will encourage the audience to purchase. Valuable content will bring consistent traffic to your website which will result in a higher conversion rate.

Build a Community

Valuable content is the first step in building a community. Engage with your audience on social media, comments, and email newsletters. Building a community of your audience will promote confidence and trust and will bring in the audience again and again helping in a high conversion rate.

Optimize for SEO

Optimize your content for SEO for maximum visibility of your content. Research keywords, optimize meta tags, and use descriptive headers. Good SEO attracts organic traffic and potential customers.

Track your Analytics and Stay Updated

Use Google Analytics, Google Search Console, or other analytics tools to track your performance. Analyze the click-through rate, conversion rate, and earning potential to find out what works and what does not. Use this date to make an informed decision.

4 Things to Avoid in Affiliate Marketing

Here are the 4 things to avoid in affiliate marketing.

Tough Competition

Avoid highly competitive niches like “food”. Food is a broad niche, you have to make it as narrow as possible. Instead of creating content on food, you should go with a narrow or more specific niche like “vegan food”.

Product Quality and Reputation

Promoting low-quality and unethical products can harm your reputation. If your audience has a negative experience with the product. They are not gonna buy your recommended product anymore.

FTC guidelines

According to FTC guidelines, affiliate marketers must disclose their relationship with the product. Failing to disclose this relationship can lead to legal consequences and a negative reputation. Standing by these guidelines is essential for ethical and transparent affiliate practices.

Relying on One Program

Don’t rely on one affiliate program because affiliates who rely on one affiliate program are vulnerable to a sudden change in the affiliate program terms and conditions, commission rate, or maybe the program shut down. That is why you should always diversify your affiliate programs to minimize the risk.


Affiliate marketing is a strong and active online business model. It is not just an extra revenue stream but it is the pathway to your financial freedom. It empowers individuals and businesses to monetize their expertise in online presence.

Throughout the article, we have explained the key points of affiliate marketing and its immense potential in the future. Here are the key points of the article.

  • Understanding affiliate marketing
  • Choosing the right niche
  • Create high-quality content
  • Choose reputable programs
  • Build audience trust
  • Overchallenges

What is the best platform to promote affiliate links on? Tell us in the comments.

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