What Is Affiliate Marketing?

What is affiliate marketing

‘Affiliate Marketing’ is a term that most people have heard of, yet very few understand exactly what it means.

If that applies to you then today I’m going to explain how the often-misunderstood affiliate marketing process works.

More importantly, I want to help you decide if it’s something you would like to try to earn some extra cash online.

In this article I will be covering the following important topics:

How Affiliate Marketing Works

Affiliate marketing is the practice of recommending the products and services of global companies to potential customers online.

When a sale is generated from your recommendations, you earn a percentage of the total sale value in the form of a commission payment from the product owner.

One of the most appealing factors of affiliate marketing is that the fulfillment of the sale is handled entirely by the product/service owner.

This means that you hold no stock as an affiliate marketer. You don’t do any shipping. And the product owner provides all the customer support.

You simply get paid when your recommendation converts to a sale.

The online world offers a great deal of potential for affiliate marketers because any recommendations made can reach anyone, anywhere in the world.

This can result in a high volume of sales (commission payments to you) on an ongoing basis.

Also, just about any product or service that you can think of can be recommended through affiliate marketing! More on this shortly.

While all of this sounds great, it is important to remember that ongoing success is only possible if you understand the correct way to operate as an affiliate marketer.

And I will be frank with you: affiliate marketing is not difficult at all, but it is easy to get it wrong.

With over 10 years of experience as an affiliate marketer, my aim with this guide is to show you the possibilities when you do things the right way.

The 3 Important
Affiliate Marketing Components

There are 3 main components at the heart of the affiliate marketing process:

  1. The product or service.
  2. The affiliate marketer or “affiliate”.
  3. The potential customer.
#1 The Product Or Service

As mentioned previously, there are almost no limitations when it comes to the type of product or service that you can recommend online.

Global companies both big and small will happily make commission payments to you for recommending their goods.

The amount they pay per sale varies from around 6% of the sale value to as much as 75%.

In monetary terms, this could range from a few dollars to $100’s even $1000’s earned per sale.

#2 The Affiliate Marketer or “Affiliate”

As an affiliate, it’s in your best interest to make recommendations in such a way that potential customers will appreciate the benefits of a particular product or service.

This can be done in many ways, but the best platform to do this from is a website.

Not just any website…your own website.

Now if the very idea of having a website puts you off affiliate marketing, don’t let it.

Building a website has been simplified over the years to the point where a barebones website can be created in minutes.

Of course, a website without anyone content on it won’t earn you any money. But later in this article, we will look more at what it takes to create a website that is ready to profit.

There are many other benefits to having a website as an affiliate marketer. But more than anything it will greatly increase your chances of earning a consistent online income.

#3 The Potential Customer

We are all used to searching the internet for specific information, and this often leads us to recommendations being made by affiliate marketers.

However, most of us tend to back away if we feel that someone is trying to force a purchase upon us in a slippery salesman kind of way.

Likewise, if we are unsure of how legit a recommendation is then we usually seek assurances elsewhere.

These are just a couple of examples of how affiliate marketing can easily go wrong.

Affiliate marketers operating like this do not place enough importance on how the potential customer might feel about what they are offering.

This can negatively affect the chances of earning regular commission payments from their recommendations.

On the other side of the coin, a more successful affiliate will be honest, helpful, and transparent.

This instantly creates a more positive and trusted experience for the potential customer and increases the chances of the affiliate making consistent sales.

Affiliate Networks And
The Roles They Play

Affiliate networks are intermediary websites that connect affiliate marketers with products/services ready for recommendation.

Companies from around the world, known as ‘merchants’, advertise their goods on affiliate networks. This makes it easier for affiliate marketers to locate specific items for their recommendations.

Affiliate networks also provide detailed conversion information about all of the affiliate programs on offer. This makes it easier for affiliates to select products for recommendations that are known to convert well.

There are many affiliate networks available, with CJ.com, Shareasale.com, and Clickbank.com being among the most popular.

CJ.com is one of the largest affiliate networks in the world and its focus is mostly on physical products. Here you will find a huge number of popular brand products from across the globe.

CJ.com is free to join and with over 3000 merchants available, it’s widely regarded as one of the most trusted affiliate networks.

ShareASale.com is very similar to CJ.com and has over 4500 merchants within more than 100 niche sectors.

After a slump in business due to the popularity of CJ.com, ShareASale restructured its company back in 2017 and has since grown from strength to strength.

ShareASale is also free to join, but new affiliates must pay $5 for a security check when joining. The $5 is then paid back once the check is passed.

Clickbank.com is a digital affiliate network, meaning it offers downloadable content in the form of ebooks, software, and membership services.

With over 4000 products on offer, Clickbank is very popular with affiliate marketers who focus on recommending digital goods.

Clickbank is free to join and offers commission payments of up to 75% for affiliates.

As well as affiliate networks, there are also 10,000’s independent affiliate programs available online.

A couple of examples of these would be Amazon.com and Udemy.com

Amazon is a website that many of us use to get a great deal, and affiliates can recommend anything from their vast range of stock.

The only downside is that Amazon commission payments start at a relatively low 6% and increase gradually based on affiliate performance.

Udemy is an online learning platform where anyone can create and sell online courses on just about any topic.

As an affiliate, you get to recommend any courses on the Udemy platform and earn commission payments in return.

The Udemy affiliate program pays 50% commission per sale so it’s a worthy consideration for new affiliates.

We have only scratched the surface in terms of what you can recommend and how much you can earn as an affiliate, but I’m sure you will agree there is a lot of potential.

What Do You Need To Get
Started As An Affiliate Marketer?

An affiliate marketing business can be set up by anyone from anywhere in the world.

Most affiliate programs and networks require you to be at least 18 years old to create an account, but there are no restrictions in terms of the upper age limit.

In fact, many retirees take up affiliate marketing as a way to top up their retirement income.

In terms of actual equipment, as long as you have a home computer or laptop with internet access, you are good to go.

If you’ve heard of affiliate marketing before then it might well have been sold to you as a way to make mountains of cash with very little effort.

This is simply not true.

While it can be done from the comfort of your own home (a huge benefit for many people), just like any other career or way to make money, it takes consistent effort to earn a stable income.

Unlike a bricks-and-mortar business in the offline world, setting up online as an affiliate marketer can be straightforward and setup and ongoing maintenance costs can be low in comparison when done correctly.

What’s The Earning Potential
For An Affiliate Marketer?

The golden question that everyone wants the answer to!

There is no set amount of money that an affiliate marketer can earn. However, the amount that YOU can earn IS dependent on your input and levels of commitment.

As an example, when I started out as an affiliate marketer over 10 years ago, I also had a full-time job.

I was only able to commit 5-10 hours per week initially. But when my affiliate income started to increase, I increased my commitment to grow my online business further.

When I reached the point of earning more online than from my full-time job, I left the 9-5 to focus on expanding my online business and income.

However, not everyone wants to do this.

You might want to just earn some extra cash each month, which is achievable with reduced levels of commitment.

Or you might have the same desire that I had and want to one day quit your job and work online. This is also achievable, over time and with consistent effort.

As an affiliate marketer, you ultimately have control of your level of commitment and earning potential.

What Successful Affiliate Marketers Do
(And Why You Should Do The Same)

Across the internet, there are many trains of thought on how to create the greatest level of success as an affiliate marketer.

For example, you might have come across opportunities that provide you with ready-made websites with recommendations already in place to begin your affiliate marketing career.

This is possibly the worse way to get started as an affiliate marketer and also the most expensive in the long run.

The best way to create long-term success and get the greatest amount of pleasure as an affiliate marketer is to do something ridiculously simple…

Build a website about something that interests you – something that you are passionate about!

Now that could be a topic (niche) that you already know about, or likewise, it could be something that you want to develop a better understanding of.

Take this website as an example.

I started workfromhomewatchdog.com back in 2011. My reason for doing this was to help prevent others from losing money to online scams – as I did when I started out online.

The key point here is that I was no expert when I set this website up. But I was (and still am) very passionate about this niche and helping others.

The internet is full of personal websites where individuals write about specific passions and interests, attracting other people who share their interests.

Over the years I have personally helped people to create successful websites on niche topics that they are passionate about. Some of those include:

  • The RV lifestyle
  • Home decorating and organization
  • Surviving as a student
  • Weight loss (personal journeys)
  • Homeschooling
  • Parenting children with Autism
  • Anime
  • Retro gaming
  • Depression
  • DJ training
  • Drone piloting

The reason why this approach works so well is because as individuals, we never tire of talking about things that we are truly passionate about.

This makes it easier to create a website about a personal passion rather than a random topic that we know nothing about.

And you can be 100% certain people are searching the internet daily for information related to your interests and passions.

The Pro’s & Con’s
Of Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is one of the most appealing ways to make money online. But that doesn’t mean it is right for everyone.

To help you evaluate if it’s a good fit for you personally, let’s look at the pros and cons.

Pro #1 – Your Interests = An Online Income

Given the choice, we would all prefer to make money by doing something related to our interests and passions.

Affiliate marketing allows you to do exactly that by building a website on a niche topic close to your heart and recommending related items to your website visitors.

It’s a win/win situation that makes affiliate marketing one of the most desirable ways to earn an income online.

Pro #2 – Convenient and Flexible

Regardless of how much you would like to earn as an affiliate marketer, it’s a way to earn money online that can fit seamlessly around you and your weekly schedule.

Do it from home on a PC or even from the coffee shop on your laptop or tablet. You get to choose when and how you work on your affiliate marketing business.

Pro #3 – Earn When You Are Not Working

With a website built and recommendations in place, you can earn commission payments at any point during the day.

This is because your website will be live 24/7, across the globe.

It’s therefore completely normal for affiliate marketers to make sales from their recommendations when they are not working.

For example: when you are watching a movie, having a day out with the family, or even while you are asleep.

Pro #4 – Low Investment And Running Costs

When compared with setting up a business in the offline world, an affiliate marketing business online is considerably cheaper and much easier to set up.

All you effectively need to get your online business off the ground is your own website. And remember that unlike an offline business you do not need to populate your business with actual stock.

With an online business, you have no rent to pay, no rates, no electricity, no gas, no phone, and so on.

An offline business can cost $10,000’s per year to run, and that’s before you even know if it will be profitable.

In the online world, an affiliate website generating a consistent income can realistically be run for much less than $100 per month.

Pro #5 – Affiliate Marketing: A Skill For Life

Once you understand the core principles of the affiliate marketing process, you will have the ability to make money online whenever you need to.

You will look at the internet in a whole different light when you realize just how much potential there is online from an affiliate marketing point of view.

There are no limits in terms of what you can achieve if you do things the right way and put in the necessary effort.

Let’s now take a look at the cons…

Con #1 – Self-Motivation is a MUST

The big difference between life at the 9-5 and earning an income online is that you are your own boss as an affiliate so you decided when and how hard you work.

Having been in that position myself when I started out, I can tell you that it’s a real shift in mindset and it takes time to adapt.

This can often mean working on your affiliate marketing business when you would usually be relaxing, or even making some sacrifices to fit in your online business time.

Of course, it depends on what you want to achieve in terms of success and your financial goals.

But one thing is for sure…put in the effort and the results will come.

Con #2 – You Have No Control Over Your Competition

Affiliate marketing is a popular way to make money online, and that means other people could have websites ranking in the search results on the same niche topic as you.

The good news is, not all affiliates know the correct way to create a website with potential.

So the key here is to ensure that you build your website correctly and your content is of the highest and best possible standard.

Search engines (especially Google) reward those who build their websites this way and tend to rank them higher in the search results.

Rank higher in the search results and you will get more website visitors each day, thus increasing your earning potential.

Con #3 – The Learning And Earning Curve

You will not experience overnight success as an affiliate marketer, and it will take time for you to learn the ropes and get your affiliate marketing business off the ground.

That is why I always advise people to expect a period of 1 – 3 months before the little successes start to happen.

As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day, but if you take positive steps from the start you will be building solid foundations for an affiliate business that will last for years to come.

Con #4 – It CAN Be Costly To Get Started In Affiliate Marketing!

Yes, I’ve already told you that a major benefit of affiliate marketing is the low running costs, but at the same time, it can be VERY expensive – if you are not careful!

This comes down to where you learn how to put your affiliate marketing business together.

On this website alone I have reviewed many affiliate marketing courses and some will eventually charge you $1000’s to get up and running with no guarantee of success.

Websites of that type love a newbie to the industry because someone in that position has no idea how much things cost so they are more likely to pay more than they need to.

Remember: An affiliate marketing business can be easily set up and maintained for less than $100 per month. If anyone tries to tell you otherwise, you should consider other options.

How To Get Started
With Affiliate Marketing

Now that we’ve covered affiliate marketing in detail and the potential it offers, it’s time to look at how you can get started in the most effective way possible.

The key point to remember here is that costs can easily escalate when it comes to learning affiliate marketing.

And a fact that you might find surprising, and it’s one that I have discovered over time with my reviews, is that most work from home opportunities are actually affiliate marketing opportunities.

The reason for this is because affiliate marketing is one of the most reliable ways to make money online. That makes it an easy sell.

The problem this presents is that the quality of training varies GREATLY from product to product.

If you take a look at the affiliate marketing reviews category here at Work From Home Watchdog, you will see there is a diverse range in both cost and quality.

So my advice is to always look for the most complete training packages, that are transparent with costs going forward.

A good example of this would be a one-man band type guy who provides some amazing free content on Youtube.


His name is Ferdy Korpershoek, and provides a series of affiliate marketing training tutorials on his channel.

Ferdy is famed for his attention to detail and over-delivering in every video that he creates.

Ferdy’s approach is very much the solo affiliate route (higher costs – in the long run), but it’s a great option if you just want to learn before attempting affiliate marketing.

My second recommendation is Wealthy Affiliate.

If you’ve never heard of it before, it’s a widely-respected online community dedicated to helping people to succeed online as affiliate marketers.

Wealthy Affiliate is an ‘all-inclusive’ type program so you get a comprehensive set of training resources, weekly live training videos, free websites (built from scratch), free hosting, plus a bunch of other must-have resources that you will need as an affiliate marketer.

Wealthy Affiliate costs just $49 per month for the Premium membership, but you can also join as a Starter member for free. In doing so, you get to test the full system for nothing, and you even get to pick your niche/passion and build your website completely free of charge.

Affiliate Marketing Works. Just Take
Things One Step At a Time

Affiliate marketing cannot be rushed. But if you stick to the journey, you have a great chance of securing an online income that will pay you regularly for months, maybe years, to come.

Choose your training path wisely, and be wary of inflated costs for affiliate marketing training or services that you can get for free elsewhere (see above).

Have you tried affiliate marketing before?

I’d love to learn about your experiences and offer my help and support if you’ve struggled to make any progress.

Marcus – WFHW

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