The Definitive Guide to Affiliate Marketing

An introduction to the world of affiliate marketing: how does it work? Is it right for you? How do you choose the best platform and channel work with? How do you scale? This free ebook teaches beginner and intermediate marketers how to earn promoting digital products and online businesses.
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What is Affiliate Marketing?

Just twenty years ago, businesses spent thousands of dollars each year on radio, TV, or print ads in the hopes that their brand would grow. While they were promised success, the truth is that it was incredibly difficult to stand out and make money via advertising.

Worse yet, their efforts were often pitted against enormous corporations with million-dollar ad budgets. If they got any airtime at all, the smaller companies had a harder time gauging success against their Goliath-esque competition.

Small companies and your everyday entrepreneur held the short end of the stick, and growth was hard.

But that was twenty years ago.

These days, anyone with an internet connection and the know-how can make money by helping brands grow and sell online by participating in affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing is an advertising method used by brands to attempt to mitigate wasteful spending in their marketing budget. It can be frustrating for a business to pay thousands for clicks or impressions only to win a handful of customers.

Many brands have been burned by such endeavors, so as online advertising costs have risen,  they’ve turned to innovative ways that minimize costs while still growing their customer base.

While most businesses recognize that spending money on advertising is necessary, the ideal situation is to keep their costs limited to customers earned.

That’s where the idea for marketing with affiliates was born.

[highlight]As a performance-based marketing method, affiliates and businesses can work together in a revenue sharing relationship between brand and marketer. [/highlight]


For brands that have a product and want to sell more, they can offer a financial incentive through an affiliate program.

For individuals with no product that want to make money, they can find a product that has value and earn income as an affiliate marketer.

This guide provides a step-by-step journey through the world of affiliate marketing for beginners. You’ll learn what it is, how it works, and most importantly, how you can make money doing it.

And since good affiliate marketers can be hard for brands to find, you’ll learn everything you need to stand out from the crowd.

Use this ebook as a starting point and a reference for each stage of your journey as you learn how to sell as an affiliate marketer. As you read through each section, you’ll find affiliate marketing explained to you in a way that you can relate to. Plus, you’ll find tons of examples and tips that will help you establish yourself and improve your selling methods that will grow your income over the years.

So let’s get started by teaching you the basics.

1.1 Understanding Affiliate Marketing

The first question that most people raise when they approach this topic is relatively basic: what is affiliate marketing?

Here’s a basic definition that sums it up nicely:

Affiliate marketing is a way for you to earn money by selling a brand’s products. As strictly a marketer, you have no inventory and work for commission. Generally, affiliate marketers receive payment when a consumer they referred buys a product or service or completes a specific task.

In other words, it’s a way that businesses can outsource their marketing to you in a way that’s strictly performance-based. This offers businesses a 100% return on their investment, which makes it unique among online marketing methods.

It also means that you have the opportunity to make a good deal of money by selling a product that isn’t yours. The more you sell, the more you earn.

And since you don’t have to worry about shipping, overhead costs, or customer service, your input is as small as you want it to be.

But to make money as an affiliate marketer, you have to understand all parties involved and what they stand to get out of the relationship. Knowing each role and how they can potentially help you make money is an essential first step when starting out as an affiliate.

Your overall success requires building relationships that rely on three distinct parties:

What is affiliate marketing


Advertiser: The first party, typically referred to as the advertiser or merchant, is the party that’s selling the actual product or service.

This is the party that you, the affiliate, will be working with. They usually have an established affiliate program, and leave it to you to carve out your space on the web and sell their product.

The product or service could be a physical product like phones or laptops, or even less tangible items like insurance policies. We’ll cover many more possibilities and examine how to choose products wisely in a later chapter.

Affiliate: The second party is the publisher, more commonly referred to as the affiliate marketer.

This is you, the individual working with the merchant to sell in exchange for a commission. You’ll have a contract in place, and you’ll seek to push traffic in the form of links, ads, or in some cases unique phone numbers that you incorporate on your site.

Affiliate marketers fall under a very broad umbrella and could be just about anyone on the web. If you follow a blog or a popular social media profile, the chances are good that they are an affiliate of a brand.

The Advertiser/Affiliate relationship is a highly strategic one, as both parties need to make money for the relationship to continue. Since you’re working so closely, you need to be on the same page about your roles, responsibilities, and payment.

Consumer: Finally, you have the consumer or the party that will be (hopefully) buying your product. Thus, the relationship between the affiliate and the consumer should be one of trust.

The consumer finishes out the relationship triangle by interacting with your marketing efforts (like clicking a tracked URL or ad) and then moving further into the publisher’s sales funnel. Once they’ve bought something or completed the action agreed upon by the affiliate and merchant, everyone receives their piece of the exchange.

All three groups center on the relationship created by the affiliate and will receive their product or payment through you. Of course, you’ll also get paid when a purchase goes through.

Once you know how each party plays its role, you start to gain a better picture of how the entire affiliate marketing process works:

affiliate marketing meaning

You, as an affiliate, publish ads or content that encourages a consumer to buy from a merchant. You’ll have a set affiliate marketing method that will allow you to build an audience and promote to them.  

Using various technologies and platforms, the merchant can track when you send a customer to them and will pay you if they buy a product or service.

As a third-party to the brand, you have no say over what you sell or the price it sells for, but you also carry less risk.

When every aspect of affiliate marketing works together, every party benefits. Consumers get their product, merchants generate revenue, and the affiliate makes a commission.

If you do this process well, you can make money in the long-term by keeping a consistent strategy and building stronger relationships with all three involved parties.

Let’s look at a basic example of how this works in real life.

Some Examples of Affiliate Marketing

If you want an example of how successful you can be as an affiliate, look no further than the mega-affiliate website MoneySuperMarket.

affiliate marketing examples


This massive website has been around since 1993, and at this point has made its founder Simon Nixon, a billionaire. While it’s a pretty rare example of how successful one of these sites can be, it’s the perfect model to show you how this process works.

When you scroll down on the homepage, you’ll see a vast list of products or services that you can browse through. They promote a wide variety of products, including insurance, smartphones, and travel services.


Say you’re in the market for a mobile phone. When you click through to the phone offerings, you’ll see a product page that has a unique ‘Go To Site’ button instead of a ‘Purchase’ option.

affiliate marketing examples


That’s because this site doesn’t sell you anything. It recommends products that you can buy elsewhere as an affiliate.

If you were to browse MoneySuperMarket, click on to a site, and then buy one of these phones from the merchant, then part of your purchase would be sent to MoneySuperMarket.

That’s how MoneySuperMarket makes their money as an affiliate. As long as you buy from a promoted site, then they will get a kickback. This site has made billions by promoting instead of selling, and they carry zero inventory.

But you can do more than sell a product on a marketplace as an affiliate. Look at what blogger Matthew Woodward does with his website.

You’ll notice from the very beginning that it looks very different than MoneySuperMarket:

affiliate marketing for beginners


That’s because this is strictly a blog. Affiliate marketing for bloggers is a different process than for marketplaces.

By writing on topics that his audience needs to know about, he builds trust and acts as an influencer in their day-to-day. He also complements his blog with a direct email marketing approach that puts him directly in his audience member’s inbox.

affiliate marketing influencers


All of this is designed to build trust, not sell.

He then takes the trust he builds with his audience and recommends specific tools that he’s an affiliate marketer for. He even has a whole section of his site dedicated to offering exclusive deals and discounts for his readers.


Much like a marketplace, if someone is referred from his site and makes a purchase, Matthew Woodward then makes a cut. But the difference is that he can also link to these deals in his blog post, or even send them directly by email when a new deal becomes available.

He’s quite successful too, as he reportedly brings in more than $20,000 each month on a regular basis.

But that’s another example of a more prominent, more established affiliate marketer. What does it look like when you’re starting out?

Well, to answer that, let’s look at smaller Instagram influencer like Cassie Andrews Style. She started her Instagram account in 2015 and her first pictures weren’t all that impressive.  

But it wasn’t long until she was up and running. Most notably, she decided to take stylish photos of her home and post them for others to admire. Her Instagram feed is a collection of posts that have the same look and feel as you see in this photo below.


As her following grew, brands started to notice her as well. Before long, she was creating sponsored posts that allowed her followers to take advantage of special deals with her merchant partners.


While I don’t have exact figures on how much she’s made from this, she currently has more than 6,500 followers and gets tons of engagement on her posts. And while not all of her posts are sponsored or affiliate-marketing oriented, she still promotes brands from time to time on her account.

But as you can see, it’s entirely possible to be a successful affiliate marketer on a variety of levels. If you want more ideas and inspiring stories, check out this chapter dedicated to affiliate marketing examples.

Now that we’ve explained what affiliate marketing is, it’s time to start digging a little deeper into what affiliate marketing has to offer.

And with success stories like these, it’s hard not to want to dive in as soon as possible. Hold on just a little bit though because you’ve got a long way to go before you can potentially have that kind of success.

The Pros and Cons of Affiliate Marketing

Before you start as an affiliate marketer, you should know about the good and the bad. The rewards may sound amazing, but this venture doesn’t come without risks.

Pros of Being an Affiliate

  • Low startup cost. Most programs let you join for free, so costs are typically tied to how you build your audience and get referrals.
  • You don’t have to make your own product or service.
  • When someone buys, your merchant ships for you.
  • Work anywhere with a WiFi connection.
  • If set up correctly, income can be passive.
  • Adds an extra revenue source for home-based businesses or anyone with a website.

For a cash-strapped entrepreneur that’s willing to go slowly, becoming an affiliate is a dream come true. You can grow as you make money, and eventually can create a higher source of income. If you’re very successful, it could even grow to be your full-time job.

But like all good things, not everything is always simply the positives we want to hear.

Cons of Being an Affiliate

  • Building traffic for referrals can take time.
  • It’s possible for poor tracking systems not to attribute your sales properly (you lose money).
  • Bad customers to the merchant can damage your reputation and relationships.
  • Zero input on the product you promote.
  • The potential for a company to ‘go ghost’ and not pay.
  • You have a lot of competition.
  • The customer is ultimately the merchant’s, not yours.

If you commit to being an affiliate marketer, you have to understand your place in the pecking order. The brands you work with ultimately can make or break you, so you’ll need to choose wisely.

By now, you should have a better understanding of what it means to be an affiliate marketer and how you can make money doing it.

However, before we dive into the nitty-gritty details of starting out, I want to raise and answer a few questions that you need to be aware of.

1.2 Affiliate Marketing for Beginners: FAQs

Once you answer the initial question of ‘what is affiliate marketing?’ it’s not uncommon for the aspiring entrepreneur to start looking for more clarity. In fact, there’s usually a long list of questions that you want to have answered before you dig into starting your journey as an affiliate marketer.

So to help try to answer any questions or concerns, I’ve put together a list of common questions that will help ease your mind and give you some basic guidelines to work with.

Is It Still Viable?

One of the biggest concerns with newcomers is perhaps the most relatable. Simply put, is there any more room in the world for another successful affiliate to make it?

That depends on what you want to sell as an affiliate.

It’s no secret that interest in affiliate marketing has trended positively over the last decade. A simple look at Google Trends will tell you that much.

google trends affiliate marketing

On the surface, this trend may seem discouraging. Your interest is piqued, but so is the interest of your friends, neighbors, and coworkers. It gives the impression that affiliate marketing for beginners is an uphill climb.

That idea isn’t wrong, but it’s only half the picture. Much like the rest of the digital frontier, being an affiliate means changing with the times. That means while there’s more interest than ever,  there’s also more opportunity than ever as well.

For example, smartphones have changed the way we interact with the world around us, which means they’ve also affected how affiliates approach their audience.

Also, sites like Instagram and YouTube have created a broader pool of influencers for brands to choose from, as there are more content creators with ready audiences than ever.

Becoming an affiliate is still a viable option for the entrepreneur that’s willing to put in the effort and find what works. It may take trial and error, but there’s no doubt that you can make money once you hone your approach.

Is It Truly Profitable for the Little Guys?

It’s easy to look at an example like the one above and think you’ll never get there. However, the facts should pleasantly surprise you.

Recent studies have shown that affiliate marketing is the second-best way that brands generate money. Google AdSense barely edges it out.

Is affiliate marketing profitable for publishers


That means the potential for newcomers to be profitable is there if you approach with the proper system.

At its best, being an affiliate can become an excellent source of passive income. There’s a moderate amount of upfront work required to potentially make a sale, but once you create a system, you can easily turn a profit.

Say for example you decide to use paid ads to sell a product. Once you build an ad, determine a budget, and do some optimization, you can have your ad running in the background that will send visitors to your merchant’s site.

You don’t hassle with a product or customer complaints. Your only goal is to send highly targeted traffic to a landing page or product page to start winning conversions.

But being profitable requires much more than sending a visitor to a page and hoping they buy. Much of the profitability of your efforts depends on elements you can’t control.

For example, does the product that you promote offer a reasonable commission rate? If not, you may not make enough to cover the costs of your advertising.

Even though commission rates are rising, that doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to always turn a profit.

Furthermore, does the niche that you’re selling within have high enough demand so that products will sell?

And will people actually click on your ads at all?

All of these questions need to fall into the ‘yes’ column for your efforts to be profitable. Instead of going with the first brand you find, you’ll need to do some serious digging. Partnering with an unsustainable brand could lose you money and put you off from being an affiliate for good.

John Doherty, Credo

There absolutely is still room for new affiliates, because there are always new products to promote and new audiences to reach. The internet is a vast place with infinite verticals to work in, so instead of just focusing on the biggest affiliate programs in a specific industry I recommend using that one as well as others (and Amazon!) to round out your affiliate offers and thus your revenue.

The most important thing a newcomer to affiliate marketing needs to focus on and learn is *how to generate a large and engaged audience*. Without a large and engaged audience, or the skills to grow that, then affiliate marketing will be completely ineffective. Learn one top-level acquisition channel (partnerships, SEO, whatever) and then learn the middle of the funnel with marketing automation/email marketing to further convert people time and time again to different offers once they are within your network.

So yes, being an affiliate can be profitable if you’re strategic about your efforts and do your homework.

Is It a Scam?

While affiliate marketing has a good reputation in general, one of the common questions raised by newcomers is whether or not it’s a scam.

Unfortunately, these allegations sometimes have a leg to stand on, as there have been some publicized scams through the years that you should be aware of.

This scathing article on VentureBeat from 2013 still ranks number one for a Google search of ‘affiliate marketing scam’.

Affiliate marketing isn't a scam

The author’s business was being scammed by affiliates who manipulated their system, which cost a great deal of money.

The business owner unfortunately concluded, and shared, that most affiliates were scam artists. Since he writes for a major publication, the damage was done for good even with the rebuttal post that the publication posted.

It’s also not uncommon to stumble upon affiliate programs that are little more than a get-rich-quick scheme. If you ever watched late-night infomercials, the promise is typically one and the same.

These schemes typically focus on a product or service that doesn’t even exist, which is the first red flag.

The other thing to watch out for is how the program is ‘sold’ to you. If they overuse buzzwords like ‘work from home’ or ‘make money while you sleep’, you should proceed with caution.

While those phrases are technically true, they can be used to pique your interest and lower your guard. It also makes being an affiliate as a profession look somewhat sleazy, and has prompted many a forum chat about authenticity.

The final common ‘scam’ revolves around people who advertise courses for new affiliate marketers.

They typically draw an unknowing and unsuspecting prospect in, only to give them poor advice or information that leads the marketer down the wrong path. This ‘training’ is just someone trying to make a quick buck at the expense of an interested but unknowing party. While legitimate affiliate marketing training courses do exist, there’s enough bad out there to cause some harm to affiliate marketing’s reputation.

People sign up, and when they don’t make any money (or actually lose money), they decide that the whole thing is a scam. It’s best to do your research and make sure that any course you join is worth your time and money.

An added result of this is that there’s now an unfortunate amount of wrong information that you’ll need to wade through to determine what’s right. But that’s why you should turn to successful affiliate marketers and authoritative guides to learn the fundamental skills.

So yes, there have been scams. Should that scare you away? Definitely not!

Now that you know what to look for from disreputable sources, you can avoid them. As long as you stick to established influencers and commit to building a legitimate network, you don’t have anything to worry about.

You can truly and safely start making money while you sleep, just stay away from the sites and individuals who promise that will happen overnight.

How Long Does It Take?

The truth is that building your income as an affiliate will take time. Overnight success is unheard of, and you’re likely going to be contending with other affiliates who have been at it for a while.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t get a good idea of how long it may take to start seeing something. Many affiliate marketers report making modest sales within the first three months, even though that’s not a guarantee.

You have to approach this like you would any other online brand. The goal when trying to sell a product is twofold, and that extends to affiliate marketers when they sell to them.

On the one hand, you can approach this as if you are your own brand. You’ll have to build a website, start a social media account, and then create content that adds value to your target audience.

With this method, your two objectives are:

  1. Build an audience.
  2. Earn their trust.

So in one instance, the answer to the question “how long does it take?” is really better phrased like this:

How long does it take to build an audience and earn their trust?

Many successful affiliate marketers focus on building compelling content first. Then, they worry about revenue. But that’s just one example.

On the other hand, you could take a more incognito approach and choose to rely on paid advertising. Your role would be to create an ad and shoulder and budget obligations. You still have the same goal of making a sale, but no one would ever have to know your name or see your website.

When you utilize paid ads, the timeline for making a sale can be much shorter provided you know what you’re doing.

Either way, you have to start by providing value that draws attention, and then you move to capitalize on that opportunity.

It also helps if you truly believe in the product your selling, as that creates a more genuine conversation with your audience. You can certainly build an affiliate business around any product, but that doesn’t mean you should.

How Does It Compare to Dropshipping?

When discussing affiliate marketing, it’s inevitable that dropshipping will enter the conversation.

Dropshipping is another form of online selling that often gets tagged onto this topic and sometimes causes confusion. Allow me to clear up the confusion for you.

When you take a closer look at dropshipping and affiliate marketing together, you’ll notice some immediate similarities:

  • You don’t have to carry inventory for either.
  • There’s little to no risk involved.
  • Both will allow you to earn a substantial income.
  • The startup barrier is low.
  • Both require a digital marketer’s skill set.

So both are the same in that you don’t need to actually have a physical product in stock in a warehouse to make money. Dropshipping usually involves a relationship between a manufacturer that ships to a customer on the brand’s behalf.

But that’s where the similarities tend to end.

Unlike being an affiliate, dropshipping requires you to establish your own business. You’ll set up a website, build a relationship with a manufacturer, and handle all of the day-to-day minutiae of running a business. It’s still low risk and can be profitable for an entrepreneur willing to learn the ropes.

The upside of dropshipping is that you have much more freedom with your products. You set the margins, market how you want to, and ultimately build a brand. Being an affiliate doesn’t allow you that freedom, as you’re selling someone else’s goods.

Of course, you also have to deal with customer service, backlogs, and other frustrating e-commerce issues as a dropshipper as well. The potential for success may be greater, but the risks and responsibilities grow with your business.

This debate naturally leads to one question: which is better?

The ultimate choice you go with is up to you. Both present low-risk, low-cost opportunities to make more money, and you can learn more of the differences by checking out this free ebook on dropshipping.

But keep in mind that your only costs are related to the marketing tactic you use, and you can grow as fast or as slow as you want. Being an affiliate is a much easier path than dropshipping, and can be just as lucrative.

So How Do I Get Started?

At this point, you’ve got the big picture. Affiliate marketing for beginners can be tough, but it can also be a great source of income if you’re willing to stick it out.

Now you’re ready to dive into the details of how you can get started. The next chapter will cover the basics of how you’ll make money, which channels you can use, and provide more guidance on where to begin.

How to Make Money With Affiliate Marketing

Now that you have a good idea of what it is, the next step is to find out how to make money with affiliate marketing.

While we’ve already looked at some examples of businesses that have successfully done this, we haven’t gone into much detail about how you actually get paid. This chapter will dive deep into the mechanics of how you sell, track, and get paid for the work you’ll be doing.

This will help you understand more about what you’re getting into, and provide some insight into how to make money with affiliate marketing for beginners. Knowing how payments work will even help you decide how quickly you step into the world of affiliate marketing.

2.1 How Affiliate Commission Works

As we’ve seen, affiliate marketers generally make money when they sell or help prompt the sale of a product, service, or other online good. This is also the general idea people think of when they hear the word ‘commission’. Sales have to be involved, right?

But that’s only one element of how affiliate marketers can get paid.

For the sake of simplicity, you can break down affiliate commission into three separate categories that work together to ensure you get paid:

  1. Payment plans
  2. Proven wins
  3. Payment systems

We’ll talk about each, and show you how they work in your favor as an affiliate.

The first element that you’ll need to nail down when looking into how to make money with affiliate marketing is how often you get paid, or the payment plan.

Generally speaking, there are at least three considerations when establishing a payment plan with a merchant.

Payment Plan Element How it Works
Set dates Weekly, monthly, or quarterly payments. Often merchant-oriented to ensure adequate payments are made.
Minimum payment Once you earn a minimum amount, payment is triggered. If you don’t hit this amount in a set time, payment delays until the next date when the minimum is met.
Sliding vs. normal commission Determines if your payment is set, or can change with your performance.

When you establish each of these elements, you’ll have a better idea of how you need to perform to gain a consistent income.

For example, if your minimum amount is $100 and you get paid the first of each month, you’ll know how effective your efforts need to be to receive timely payments.

This also helps you plan your finances, and determine if the initial effort will be worth it.

Once you know what your payment plan is, the next step is to determine which proven win you’ll get paid for.

While most people think about sales as the only affiliate marketing action that’s available to you, your actual mission is really to provide a proven win for the merchant. That means you can make money with affiliate marketing in a wider variety of ways than just selling.

A proven win is a much broader concept than merely closing a sale. That works in your favor, as it creates more opportunity for you to make money as an affiliate under the right circumstances.

When a business tries to win a customer, they typically use a model called the sales funnel to help them create a systematic approach toward selling. Here’s a typical example of what this can look like:

how to do affiliate marketing


Within this sales funnel, there are seven stages that require a ‘win’ that the business has to achieve for a customer to make a purchase.

[highlight]To make money with affiliate marketing, your job is to provide one of these wins to a business for an agreed upon price. Your affiliate commission is based on how well you perform this task. [/highlight]


Since there is such a broad spectrum of set wins, you have plenty of options when determining your approach as a marketer.

For example, making that initial contact with a potential customer can sometimes be difficult for a business. If you can leverage your audience or a paid ad to help initiate a conversation between a business and a future buyer, then you can be paid for that.

In fact, there are a wide variety of wins that you can achieve in order to get paid. Here are three quick examples:

Proven Win Description Example
Form Submitted You get paid when there are a certain amount of views of your ad, blog post, video, or social post. You get paid per 5,000 views on a YouTube video. A video with 50,000 views = 10 payments.
Click, or X number of clicks. You get paid whenever a visitor clicks on your ad, blog post, or a specific link in your blog post. In your blog post, you include a link that nets $0.50 per click. If 200 users click, you earn $100.  
Action, or X number of actions. You get paid whenever a user takes a specific action, such as subscribing to a newsletter, making a phone call, or purchasing a product. You run an ad promoting your merchant’s product. Whenever someone purchases via your ad, you get 10% of the profit.
Demo Scheduled For larger products and services, many brands prefer you set up a call with their sales team. Your goal is to schedule appointments, not necessarily sell. You post a blog article about enterprise web hosting. Someone schedules through a link you provide, and you earn a commission.
Purchase Complete In longer sales cycles, it may take more time for a purchase to be completed after you bring your customer to the merchant. This rewards generously for prospects you provide that actually buy. A referral from your efforts negotiates with the merchant. After 3 months in their sales funnel, they close a deal and you are compensated a set percentage.

To make money with affiliate marketing, you will need to track and report each of these wins. As each is unique, you’ll have to employ a variety of tracking tools to bring in revenue.

To give you a better idea of what that looks like, an easy way to track clicks or impressions is to create an online ad using Google Ads.

When you create, fund, and publish an ad, your dashboard gives you a day-by-day breakdown of impressions, clicks, and how much you’ve spent to win those clicks.

 how to make money affiliate marketing

This is the information that you’ll track and report to your merchant in order to receive compensation for your efforts.

Or if you’re trying to track traffic to your site, an easy way to do so is to utilize the free tracking available on Google Analytics. Under the Behavior Overview, you can see a quick readout of how many unique page views you get per day, as well as plenty of other helpful information you’ll be able to track and report.

You’ll need to ensure that you’re able to accurately track whatever metric allows you to effectively make money with affiliate marketing.

And in many situations, you won’t have to track much of anything at all. For example, many affiliate marketers are issued ‘specialized’ links that act as a flag for the merchant to track. One marketer shared this example that he used as an Amazon affiliate:

The final, bolded element is his associate ID, which signals to the merchant which affiliate brought the traffic and needs to be paid for the click or subsequent purchase.

In general, you’ll see more opportunities as an affiliate marketer under the ‘Actions’ category of proven wins. Since most trustworthy ad platforms don’t charge for impressions, brands have moved away from paying affiliates to win those. The only exception would be brand-oriented blog posts or videos, but even those are uncommon.

But once you’ve determined what ‘win’ you’re going for, it’s time to knuckle down and talk finalizing your affiliate commission.

The next step of learning how to make money with affiliate marketing for beginners requires you ro learn a bit more about how those commissions work.

In short, you get paid via an agreed upon payment system.

When it comes time to get paid, you’ll need to negotiate with your merchant to determine what works best for the both of you. Depending on your responsibilities and your merchant’s flexibility, there are a variety of different payment systems that affiliate marketers use.

#1: Pay-Per-Sale

This payment program means that every time you complete a sale, you get paid. Depending on your arrangement, payment can be immediate, or on set days of the week, month, or quarter.

This system is as simple as commission could be and is much like the traditional sales approach in that way. It’s by far the most common type of affiliate payment system, and is usually the primary way affiliate marketing is represented.

youtube affiliates


Some companies even offer more complex sliding commissions, which means you get paid more for higher sales amounts.

Under the right circumstances, it’s beneficial to all parties and can provide excellent opportunities to make money with affiliate marketing.

#2: Pay-Per-Lead

Leads are potential customers that your merchant can follow up with, and can be of immense lifetime value to the right brand. Pay-per-lead systems are similar to pay-per-sale, except the ‘proven win’ is that you produce a qualified lead.

This is done through a process similar to pay-per-sale marketing, as it relies on audience analysis and delivering ads or content that are engaging.

pay per lead affiliate


Usually, a qualified lead needs to hit a certain profile though, so sending any old lead won’t do. You’ll need to ensure that your prospect hits all the right checkmarks before you send them on.

In order to win leads, you’ll need to take a softer approach than if you were operating under a pay-per-sale payment system. Lead generation is more about gathering information that your merchant partner can use to make a sale at a later time. That means using different tactics, such as:

  • Email opt-ins or newsletters.
  • Forms on your website or landing pages.
  • Phone call scheduling.

Pay-per-lead programs are usually run by companies with bigger budgets. For example, this list of pay-per-lead programs shows off multiple affiliate programs that offer more than $100 per lead. Most of the businesses require large investments of their customers though, so you know they can afford it.

This type of payment system is mostly used by companies that have a more offline-oriented sales approach, like car dealers or real estate agents. They can’t make a sale online, but still need leads.

In essence, this payment allow you to make money with affiliate marketing by bridging the gap between the customer and the merchant. If you want to do less hard selling, this is a good system to choose.

#3: Pay-Per-Click

Pay-per-click is the third most common type of payment system, and it simply means that you get paid when your merchant’s banner ad or link is clicked on your site. Since you get paid regardless of whether the customer makes a purchase, this has good potential.

Unfortunately, as previously mentioned, it’s hard to find pay-per-click much anymore due to some fraudulent behaviors in the past. Plus, online ads tend to provide a much better return on the merchant’s investment.

#4: Customer Acquisition

This type of payment system is also known as a bounty program. The gist of it is that if you send a customer to a site and they make a purchase, you get paid.

While that sounds like pay-per-sale, it’s different in one crucial way: scale.

Bounty programs are typically used by larger businesses that bring in much more money per sale. They also tend to keep their accounts for a more extended period, which means the sale you bring in is worth more.

And it’s also usually a much longer sales cycle. Here’s a good breakdown of where this process falls in the overall sales cycle:

how to make money affiliate marketing


For example, a larger wholesaling website could pay an affiliate fee to a smaller client that refers another business. You can almost think of it like a ‘finder’s fee’. Instead of making a hard sale, you only have to start the relationship between your merchant and the customer.

If you’re looking for a way to make money with affiliate marketing that has high payouts, this option is a good place to start.

#5: Residual Earnings

The residual earnings payment system is much like the customer acquisition program, but the initial payment is usually smaller. Instead, whenever the referred customer makes another purchase in the future, a percentage of that goes to the affiliate.

This means your pay gets spread out over time and can be a useful method for affiliates promoting a subscription-based service. Amazon is particularly famous for taking this type of approach for their services like Amazon Music or Prime Video.

And if these subscriptions lead to more purchases, there’s usually a little kickback to the affiliate marketer that goes with it.

While residual earnings usually diminish over time, they can still add up to a significant amount and are a great option for affiliates to make consistent income.

residual earnings

#6: Multi-Tier Programs

In a multi-tiered program, the first tier is the same as any other payment system. You’ll get paid according to your agreed upon goal.

The big difference is that you can also recruit more affiliates. When you do so, you’ll take a percentage of their profits, and therefore earn commission by doing virtually nothing. Theoretically, there’s an infinite number of tiers that can get added.

Sort of like this:

multi tier affiliate marketing


While this might sound good, you have to keep in mind that you’re essentially recruiting your competition. Combined with the fact that you’re typically making a percentage of their earnings, you’re getting a relatively small piece of the pie for each tier added.

Plus, there’s no guarantee that the affiliates you recruit will make any money. These programs can fall short if you emphasize too much recruitment and not enough sales.

Reading the fine print of these types of agreements can help you keep from getting your hopes too high, and can give you a better idea of their ultimate worth.

Different affiliates and merchants will want different pay structures. Depending on what you sell and who you’re selling it to, you could see any of these payment plans, proven wins, and payment systems when you take the leap into affiliate marketing.

It’s also worth noting that these programs bear a resemblance to MLMs and may not be legal in all countries. For best results, multi-tiered programs are best when restricted to two or three levels.

Choosing the ones that fit your needs the best is the first step you need to take in order to make money with affiliate marketing

2.2 Affiliate Marketing Average Income

Before you dive into affiliate marketing, you need to know if it will be profitable for you in the long run. That means learning how to track your return on investment or ROI.

One of the major questions about how to make money with affiliate marketing for beginners revolves around how much the affiliate marketing average income is. This is the ultimate measure of worth, and not without reason.

But if you’re looking for an easy answer, there’s unfortunately not one.

Becoming a profitable affiliate marketer is a tightrope walk, and is often a long-term endeavor. You need to be able to balance your costs against what you end up making, and that’s not always easy.

For example, if you’re running an ad campaign to sell a product, there are many considerations you’ll need to take into account.

First of all, running an ad costs money. When you run an ad, you’ll need to know your average cost-per-click, which means how much you pay when someone clicks on your ad. Here’s an example of some average costs-per-click:


As you can see, cost-per-click varies from industry to industry.

So when you set up your advertising budget, you’ll need to take into account how many clicks you’re able to get with the money you put in.

If four or five clicks can max your budget, it may not be worth your time and money to run an ad. You can take another approach, or find another merchant to work with.

Then, you have to take into account how many clicks on average it takes for one of those clicks to complete the entire sales process. If you get an average of one sale per every 50 clicks, then you know how much it costs to get a sale. That figure is called your cost per customer.

For example, if it costs you $0.50 per click, and you need 50 clicks to get one sale, then your cost per customer is $25.

If what you make in commission is less than $25, then your affiliate marketing average income is in the red. It’s hard to make money with affiliate marketing when your costs are too high.

The key concept here is to find the right balance between cost per customer and the revenue you gain from winning a customer. You’ll need to experiment in order to find the best balance between your costs as a marketer and your income for proven wins.

For example, a recent study showed that most Facebook users only read the headlines of articles and ads before sharing with their network. That means focusing on headline experiments can help you.

You can also experiment with your ad copy, images, and the other elements of your ad to experiment and improve your own click-through rates.

Then after you’ve run an ad for a few days, you can see the average cost per click in your Ads dashboard:

This will give you the figures you need to calculate whether or not running your ad is going to be profitable.

And this is just one example. If you go the blog-building route, you also have to keep in mind that building an audience takes time. While your costs are usually less, you still have to host your website and invest your time, which is no small investment.

From there, you also have the potential to run into the occasional drought.  

One affiliate marketer saw a successful day that many only dream of – $6,000 in one day.

The next day’s haul? $0.

The truth is that there’s no such thing as an affiliate marketing average income because it’s going to be different for every affiliate marketer. Depending on your approach, budget, and goals, you’ll see different measures of success and failure as you proceed.

But when addressing how to make money with affiliate marketing for beginners, this is a valuable lesson. Don’t go with what’s trendy or what feels right. Go with something that’s proven to give you a positive return on your investment in the long run.

Figure out the specifics of how you get paid to be an affiliate marketer, and then make sure your path forward is a good one.

And to help you make sure that path forward is a good one, in the next chapter we’ll look at some of the specific actions you should take before you become an affiliate marketer.

What to do Before Becoming an Affiliate Marketer

Before we dive into some of the proven methods that affiliate marketers use to win leads and create customers for their merchant partners, I want to dive deeper into your responsibilities as you learn how to become an affiliate marketer.

If you stop to think about it, affiliate marketing is in some ways like starting a business. You have the distinct advantage of not holding inventory and typically don’t need to hire employees, but you’re still setting up an online operation.

And no matter what approach you take, whether writing blog posts or running ads, there are certain steps you’ll need to take to help you find out how to become an affiliate marketer. That means you need to take strides to ensure you prepare yourself for what lies ahead.

In this chapter, we’ll look at a step-by-step method you can use to learn how to become an affiliate marketer. This will provide a platform for your efforts, and can help give you a leg up when you’re starting out as an affiliate marketer. Whether you decide to go it alone, partner with others, or look for affiliate marketing jobs, these steps will prepare you for what’s ahead.

3.1 How to Become an Affiliate Marketer

When learning how to become an affiliate marketer, it’s important to know where to start. It’s all too easy to get the cart before the horse, and that metaphor covers a variety of scenarios. Finding merchant partners, high commision affiliate programs, or affiliate marketing jobs that pay well and are consistent requires a great deal of up-front work before you’re ever in touch with a merchant.

So to help you build your online audience and find the right niche, here’s a five-step method you can use that can help give you a solid foundation as you start as an affiliate.

3.1.1 Choose a Niche

The first step of your training for how to become an affiliate marketer involves finding out which affiliate products to sell. To do that, you need to start with the bigger picture.

Every affiliate marketer has a niche in which they try to influence their audience. If you’re too greedy and try to speak to too many niches, you could risk overextending and making your efforts ineffective.

So finding out who you’re going to target is the essential first step. But just because it comes first doesn’t make it easy.

Finding your niche is one of the most crucial parts of starting your affiliate marketing efforts. The wrong niche will make it harder to sell, and the right niche will make it easier.

So how do you find out which niche is the best one for you?

To start with, you can do a short self-assessment. As affiliate marketers are meant to be reliable advocates for a product or brand, you want to make sure that you are in the right headspace.

Start by asking questions like:

  • What topics am I passionate about?
  • Do people search for my chosen niche?
  • Will demand for my niche stay consistent?
  • Is there a lot of competition for my niche?
  • Are there affiliate programs that work within my chosen niche?

Even if you’re just creating and paying for online advertisements, your niche can make or break how profitable your affiliate marketing efforts are.

These questions will help you find out if the product you’re considering is something you want to promote regularly. No matter what type of affiliate marketing tactic you ultimately choose, these are the make or break questions.

It should also be said that passion shouldn’t be the only reason why you become an affiliate marketer. A site like KitchenFaucetDivas probably didn’t start as a project of passion, but that doesn’t make it any less profitable.

affiliate programs


Someone has to write those reviews, right?

And the same goes for creating online ads. Someone has to create them and fund them, and not all of them are going to send you to Amazon or Home Depot. A simple Google Search shows you that there are plenty of options for sponsored ads in this niche too:

So keep in mind that finding the right affiliate products to sell isn’t always about fun. It’s about profit.

While passion can certainly help you stand out, don’t let it be the biggest determining factor in your search. Instead, base your decision off of the potential to be profitable in coming years.

finding the right product

Len Markidan, Podia

If you don’t genuinely think that a product will improve people’s lives, don’t sell it! This is critical to long-term success as an affiliate. It only takes one bad recommendation to lose someone forever. But by taking the time to do your research, try every product you’re thinking about promoting, and think carefully about whether it’s a good fit for your audience, you can build a successful business by being a trusted source of useful recommendations.

But you also need to know how to find the answers to some of the questions I’ve just presented to you. For example, how do you determine if demand will stay consistent? You don’t have a crystal ball, and you’re new to this process.

So while I can’t help you determine if you’re passionate about something, I can help you answer the rest of the questions on the list above in order to help you see how to become an affiliate marketer.

To start assessing demand for a product, the best place to go is usually a tool like Google Trends. This tells you how often Google users search for a particular topic on a 0-100 scale. It also gives you a regional breakdown, and some suggested topics as well.

For example, let’s see how many people actually search for the phrase ‘kitchen faucet’ on Google:

It’s relatively consistent, between the 70’s to 90’s. That means those kitchen faucet reviews have a good potential to make money through affiliate marketing.

So whatever niche you’re considering, start by plugging it in and seeing if there’s consistent demand. This is one of the most consistent tests you can run when determining which affiliate products to sell. Many affiliate marketing items will have moderate degrees of consistency, with spikes around the holidays.

A good example is a quick search for ‘watches’.


You may or may not see success with niches like this, so take this type of result with a grain of salt. You’ll need to dig deeper to see if this niche will work for you.

But this does effectively answer the second question of consistency in your niche as well. Google Trends gives you two birds with one stone, so use it liberally as you study how to become an affiliate marketer.

The next step is to determine whether or not there’s a lot of competition in your chosen niche, and there are a couple of ways to go about this.

A simple way is to use a keyword research tool like Ubersuggest to help you see how competitive particular Google searches are.

Let’s keep running with this kitchen faucet example, to show you how it works. Start by plugging in your search term, and then click ‘Look Up’ to see the results.

As you can see, on the right side of the results you’ll see an indicator that says ‘Competition’. On Ubersuggest, this indicator ranges from 0-1, with 1 being the highest level of competition.

So with just a few clicks, you can find out what you’re up against in your niche. You can also see a variety of suggested searches that are related to your niche, as well as how competitive they are.

The second way to research competition levels is to use a service like Clickbank. We’ll discuss Clickbank in depth in a later chapter, but for now, click on the Affiliate Marketplace option on the home screen.  


From there, you’ll see an option to input a search term. Again using the kitchen faucet as an example, here’s how you use this feature: 

In the search results, you’ll see a section that I’ve highlighted in the example above called Gravity. On ClickBank, Gravity is a measurement of how high demand is for a product that’s on a 100 point scale. The lower the Gravity, the harder it will be to sell your product.

When you combine all of these approaches, you should be able to get an adequate view of how well your chosen niche will perform. Too much competition and not enough demand is a recipe for disaster, so be diligent in this process.

An excellent example of an affiliate marketer that’s clearly done their homework in their niche is the highly successful site the Points Guy. The site centers around travel-oriented reviews and guides, but also provides curated news updates for those already on the go. They also promote credit cards, which is where they make their money.


This site gets more than 2.5 million unique monthly visitors, and for every successful card signed up for, they receive anywhere from $50-$400. As both the travel industry and the credit card industry can be competitive, this is the kind of success that makes you pay attention.

And to round out their approach, they also run ads for their content to help bring in more traffic and make more money.

At the very least, this shows the importance of finding the right affiliate products to sell in your niche. Get this step right, and you’ll be giving yourself the best chance to make some money as an affiliate marketer.

But the process doesn’t end here. Your next step is to find an affiliate program that will take you one step closer to finding the merchant partners who will provide the products you promote and compensate you for your efforts.

3.1.2 Research Programs

After you’ve picked a niche, the second step is to find out which program out there can help you promote products in your niche. This is where you take a step deeper into your study of how to become an affiliate marketer.

Affiliate marketing programs are sites that act as the middleman between merchants and affiliates. Since it can be hard for merchants and affiliates to find each other, these sites act as a gateway for the relationship to begin.

Since program research is such an in-depth discussion, we’ve devoted an entire chapter to it later on in this guide.

But for now, I’ll at least bring up some key questions that you’ll need to have answered while you’re figuring out how to become an affiliate marketer. This an essential checklist that you should consider before you proceed with a particular program.

  • What merchants are using the affiliate program you’re looking at?
  • How much commission are you likely to make from your program?
  • Do you want to be associated with the program, and the brands selling through it?
  • What kind of support does the program provide you with?

We’ll cover this more in-depth later, but keep in mind that this is another step that can make or break your success as an affiliate marketer. Your program is the bridge that helps you find profitable partnerships, so don’t skip out on it.

3.1.3 Build Your Platform

The first two steps in this section focus on helping you research. From here on out, you’ll get to start creating the platform that helps you succeed as you learn how to become an affiliate marketer.

In the first chapter, I shared the two most popular ways that affiliate marketers work:

  1. Websites like blogs or marketplaces.
  2. Paid ads.

While these are only a couple of options, they’re the place that most affiliate marketers go. So in this section, we’ll break down how to set up each.

First up, let’s build a website.

While there’s some discussion over whether or not affiliates need a website at all, there are so many benefits that it’s almost pointless not to make one when you’re trying to get the knack of how to become an affiliate marketer.

It doesn’t matter if you’re working with low or high commision affiliate programs, websites can help you be successful.

Plus, if you want to look for affiliate marketing jobs in the future, having your own affiliate site is a perfect resume builder.

So when you search for ways to build a website, you’re going to get a lot of competing opinions about which option is the best. Should you go with a free option like Wix or, or is it better to build your own by using a hosting service and going with

The ultimate choice is up to you, but by far the better option for growth is a hosted site. You’ve got more flexibility, and you stand a better chance of being found via a search engine.


So to get things started, you’ll want to sort out your hosting. There are plenty of great options for hosting, like HostGator, Bluehost, or GoDaddy to help you get started quickly and affordably. While the ultimate hosting choice is up to you, you’ll want to find one that offers a reliable service and a good experience all around.

Many of these hosting companies offer:

  • Reliable hosting
  • A domain name
  • integration
  • A professional email address

And if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the process of starting a website, some of these services even offer step-by-step tutorials on their site that help get you started.

If you’re starting a blog, your best bet is to find a template theme that helps you create a friendly user experience. There are thousands of themes to choose from, so pick the one that suits you best.

The easiest way to set up a theme is to find it in your WordPress dashboard under the Appearance tab:

This will give you the ability to install the theme of your choosing with just a few clicks.

And if you want to make the website building process easy, it’s also a good idea to utilize a drag and drop style theme like the ones offered by Themify. You may have to pay a little extra for them, but it makes everything much easier.

Once you host your site and pick a theme, all you have left to do is design it to your liking. You can use custom or stock photos, and make sure that it’s clear what your site has to offer your audience.

From there, it’s time to start creating the content you want to share with your audience.

3.1.4 Create and Publish Top-Notch Content

Creating content is one of the final steps of your pre-affiliate journey. In that way, it’s also the gateway to the start of your affiliate marketing efforts. It doesn’t matter if you’re blogging or publishing ads, when you’ve hit this phase you’re in the home stretch of learning how to become an affiliate marketer.

[highlight]The phrase ‘content is king’ gets thrown around a lot in marketing, and there’s a good reason for that. In many ways, the Internet is just a collection of content. If you don’t contribute, people have no reason to come to you. [/highlight]


As we’ve already seen, that content can be as simple as an ad, or as complex and in-depth as this very ebook. How you ultimately deliver value is up to you.

But what types of content can you create that will help you stand out as a trustworthy and valuable affiliate marketer? Even if you’ve got the right niche and a flawless website, you need something to build your audience.

When considering what type of content to create, you’ve got a lot of options. In fact, one blog compiled 113 different types of content that can be created and shared. With all that variety, where do you start?

While to some degree this boils down to the ideas that interest you the most, there are at least three good starting places familiar to affiliate marketers. These can ultimately lead to success, so we’ll dive into each.

Product Reviews

One of the most common models marketers use when learning the ropes of how to become an affiliate marketer is to write reviews for different products and services in their niche. Ecommerce sites are always looking for product reviews that convert customers, so this can be a profitable place to start.

When done well, it can provide a seamless transition into affiliate marketing efforts, and can be a great way to generate income.

For example, TheBestVPN is a site that reviewed the most popular Virtual Private Networks, or VPNs, on the market. For audiences interested in cybersecurity and ensuring the protection of their information, this type of website is a goldmine of information.  


With each review, there’s an option for readers to go to the site and learn more about the VPN. As you might expect, this link is an affiliate link that attributes each referred buyer to TheBestVPN’s website.


By simply focusing on product reviews, the site positions itself as a high-authority source for newcomers to the world of cybersecurity. Everyone involved gets something from the affiliate relationship, which completes the perfect model of affiliate marketing.

Blog Posts

In a similar vein to product reviews, blog posts are another way that you can start building trust and making inroads in your chosen niche. More importantly, blog posts can help you boost sales over time as you master how to become an affiliate marketer, which is your end goal.

By addressing common questions or problems in your target market, you’ll be positioning yourself to make recommendations down the line.

The big key with writing blog posts is consistency. You need to post consistently, and you need to keep a single voice that provides high-quality ideas and tips to your reader.

A great affiliate brand that’s done an excellent job of developing an innovative blogging approach is the site Top Ten Reviews.

While it sounds at first glance that this is just another review site, it’s actually a lot deeper than that. It’s a review comparison site that’s all delivered in blog posts and slideshares, like this roundup on iOS apps:


By creating and delivering unique content, they’ve developed an engaged audience and dominate their niche. All of this is done as an affiliate too.

So if you’re struggling with a place to start and don’t want to do product reviews, take the leap into blogging. Offer solutions and share your tips as much as possible.


The final type of content you can focus on creating is an informational product that you can use as a hook to get people interested in more of what you have to say. Just like the previous two types of content, helpful guides can ultimately lead to increased sales and more money in your pocket.

This can be an ebook, email series, webinar, or any other type of extensive, in-depth look at a particular topic. As long as it’s accurate and helpful, you’ll be one step closer to gaining trust in your niche.

In time, you can also use this technique to help your audience build interest in the affiliate product that you sell.  

A good, simple example of this comes from the affiliate blog PC Part Picker. They offer a wide variety of guides that help newcomers and veterans build a computer that meets their needs.


This provides constant engagement with their audience with high-value content. And of course, with each purchase made from their recommendation, The Wire Cutter gets a piece as the affiliate marketer.

3.1.5 Create Your Ad Account

As we’ve seen all along, building a website is just one option when considering how to become an affiliate marketer. Ads are a great marketing method that can help you be successful, especially for high commision affiliate programs.

So what if you only want to use paid ads to push people to your merchant partner’s site? In that case, you don’t really need a website.  

Instead, you’ll need to set up an account to create ads in, which means you’ll need to use Google ads, Facebook ads, or even Bing ads depending on your audience.

So first off, let’s show you how to get started on Google Ads. To get started, you’ll need to head over to the Google Ads homepage and click the Get Started button.

You’ll be sent to a screen that asks for your email address and the website you’ll be sending ads to.


Next, you’ll be asked to sign in if you’re creating this with a Google account.

From there, you’ll be walked through the process to target and complete your ad, including images and copy. First, you’ll need to pick a goal for your ad.

Since you’re most likely trying to get users to buy a product, you’ll want to select the ‘Take an action on your website’ option. Even if you’re not the website’s owner, you can direct and track traffic accordingly.

From there, you’ll need to select the geographical location that you want to advertise in. This can be as broad or as narrow as you want it to be.

Once you’ve pinned down the location, you’ll want to further define what it is you’re selling. Based on the content of the website, Google Ads will suggest products and services you can include that help narrow or expand your audience.

Once you’ve finished defining your product or service, the next step is to create the final ad. On the next screen, you’ll be able to edit the copy of your ad and finalize how it appears on a search engine results page.

Once you’re done, all that’s left is to finish publishing your ad and make adjustments as needed. At this point, you’ll have successfully created both your platform and your content.

Another great option is to set up Facebook Ads to reach your audience as well. All you need to do that is a Facebook profile, which you may already have. If not, it’s easy to set one up.

Once you’ve logged into your Facebook account, head over to the dropdown menu in the top right of your Newsfeed. You’ll want to click the “Create Ads” option.

This will redirect you to Facebook’s dedicated Ad Manager. There’s plenty to explore and experiment with, but your first step is to simply set up your ad. Much like Google Ads, you’ll be walked through that process starting from the home screen. Just find this section to get started:

You’ll select your objective, create your ad, and fine-tune your schedule and budget based on your experimentation. Much like Google Ads, you’ll need to take some time to familiarize yourself with the platform and what your audience is looking for.

But not all ads are the same. Just like blog content, there are different ways you can approach creating an ad. Just to give you an example, let’s look at one of the options Google has to offer.

Google Shopping Ads

I’ve mentioned all along that blogging is only one option when learning how to become an affiliate marketer. You have ads, videos, images, and a multitude of other options that will help you build an audience and sell products effectively.

Since ads are by far one of the more popular ways affiliate marketing content gets created and shared, it’s worth taking a longer look at your content options that maximize their effect.

And since your task as an affiliate marketer is to sell products, what better way to do it than with Google Shopping Ads?

Google Shopping Ads are the options you see at the top of the search engine results page when you’re looking for a certains product. Here’s an example of what that could look like when searching for some men’s shirts:

This type of ad content can help you stand out and tap into your audience’s desire for visual content. Some companies report an 1,800% return on investment for this type of ad. Your mileage may vary, but it’s a clear winner for your ad content needs.

While the type of ad you create and promote is largely dependent on your niche, the key takeaway is that you need to create something that’s compelling. It’s the final crucial step in mastering how to become an affiliate marketer.

Finding merchants to partner with, high commision affiliate programs, or profitable affiliate marketing jobs hinges on the steps outline above. No matter what your goal is, the steps in this chapter can help make your journey as an affiliate marketer much easier in the long run.

In the next chapter, we’ll look at some more proven avenues that will help you achieve this, as well as some effective ways to expand your affiliate marketing beyond ads or a website.


Proven Affiliate Marketing Methods

At this point, you’ve learned what affiliate marketing is, how you get paid as an affiliate, and what steps you need to take before getting started. Throughout, we’ve looked at the two primary ways that affiliate marketing happens: blogging and paid ads.

But the Internet is full of variety, and just because a lot of affiliates are doing things a certain way doesn’t mean it’s the only way. There are a variety of methods you can use when approaching the broad topic of how to do affiliate marketing.

It’s up to you to find what works best, then innovate and find new ways to sell.

David Zheng of WiseMerchant on how affiliate marketing methods have changed:

David Zheng of Wisemerchn

David Zheng, WiseMerchant

Affiliates are notorious for doing quick short-term strategy. So to survive they need to start building assets like a real business. The only difference is that you don’t have to deal with products.

It’s getting harder and hard to do grey/black hat and spammy marketing strategies. So now you can cut less and less corners the more sophisticated different traffic platforms become.

In the future, I see people building more assets, such as email lists, or blogs, etc, rather than quick churn and burn strategies. Or else it won’t be sustainable to even get into affiliate marketing.

So in this section, we’re going to dive into the specifics of how you can use a wide variety of methods to help you make money as an affiliate marketer. You’ll learn how to do affiliate marketing with a blog, paid ads, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.

4.1 Affiliate Marketing Blog

As we’ve seen throughout, an affiliate marketing blog is one of the best ways you can start taking steps toward your ultimate income goals. By building a website and publishing content, you’ll effectively be creating your own online brand that can make money for years to come.

But learning how to do affiliate marketing with a blog requires you to understand online content creation at a deeper level. So I want to show you a tried and true technique that will help you find winning topics that generate traffic.

From there, we’ll look at ways you can convert your traffic into customers in a way that helps build your credibility and your revenue.

In essence, affiliate marketing blogs have two primary objectives:

  1. Gain traffic.
  2. Convert that traffic into customers.

If you are creating content focused around these two goals, you’ll be much more successful than simply going with your gut.

So to start things off, how do you create content that gains blog traffic? If you don’t already have an audience, this can be a huge struggle.

Thankfully, there’s a proven method called the skyscraper technique that can give you a shortcut. The technique is relatively simple, and consists of three steps:

  1. Find link-worthy content
  2. Make something even better
  3. Reach out to the right people

In one case, this technique doubled a blogger’s traffic in just two weeks. Bloggers and online brands around the world use it.

So if you’ve chosen your niche, determined some keywords, and done everything else I discussed in the last chapter, this is where you put that information to good use.

Let’s say, for example, that your chosen niche is helping people build websites. You’re selling a product like InstaPage 2.0 from ClickBank that provides users a drag and drop method for creating their site.

affiliate commission


You’ve got your keywords, and have some ideas on what type of content you should create. But how do you find link-worthy content for this topic that helps you create something better?

The best place to start is the front page of Google because that’s what’s already getting traffic and links.

For example, if you Google ‘drag and drop website builder’, you’ll see two main results. First, you have other services that let users build a drag and drop website. Second, you’ll see links to articles that compare various services. You want to click on the articles to see what makes them worthy of the front page.

 affiliate marketing average income

At the very least, this gives you a good idea of what type of content you’re up against should you make your own comparison blog post. You can input every keyword you’ve gathered in your research and click through to each article to see what they have to offer.

It’s also a good idea to start a spreadsheet that will help you easily reference your research when the time comes, like this:

affiliate commission

This way, you have less to scroll through and can make additional notes on what you find.

But the front page of Google provides a limited picture of how effective content like this is. It’s a great place to start learning how to do affiliate marketing with a blog, but you need to dive deeper.

One alternative to the front page of Google would be a service like Buzzsumo. You can insert keywords or phrases and see engagement statistics for the best pieces of content in your niche.

Here’s what shows up when you insert the ‘drag and drop website builder’ search phrase here:

drag and drop website builder


You see just how many engagements these pieces get across a wide variety of channels like Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. More importantly, you can see how much engagement they get overall, and it doesn’t look good for this topic.

The top article got barely above 2,000 clicks, whereas the second got only 85.

If you want a good article to improve upon, the top one is clearly the winner. Add it to your research, and then continue with the rest of your keywords you researched earlier.

Last but not least, you need to ensure that the pieces of content you find are truly representing all of the variety your niche has to offer. You can approach any niche you choose from a number of angles that can ultimately help you generate traffic as you master how to do affiliate marketing.

To do that, consider using a tool like SEMrush’s Topic Research tool to help see if you’ve missed anything.

When you input your keyword phrase, it suggests a wide variety of different topics that your keyword can fall under.

affiliate marketing research


And even better, it gives you links to pages that are relevant to your search. Clicking on the ones that meet your topic and audience will navigate you to that page, which lets you continue your research.

Once you’ve researched enough pieces to get an idea of what you’re up against, the next step is to recreate it as your own.

It should be said here that you should not plagiarize in any way.

[highlight]Plagiarism is never okay, and it will ultimately undermine your site’s traffic, your credibility, and your relationship with merchants. [/highlight]


The key here is to take the ideas others have presented and shed new light on them. Provide visual examples, keep your data fresh and relevant, and link to sources that boost your credibility.

Your end product will very likely look nothing like the pieces you’ve pulled from, and that’s okay. As long as it’s shareworthy, it will generate traffic with time.

But generating traffic is only half the battle when learning how to do affiliate marketing. You’ve put in the time to research keywords, find content that works, and create something special, but how do you close the deal? That’s where you make money after all.

Closing this gap is probably one of the most blogged about issues on the Internet amongst marketers. As an affiliate marketer, the choice is yours how you want to do it. But the biggest takeaway is to go the extra mile with your content.

Brittany Berger of Work Brighter on going the extra mile with your content:

Brittany Berger, Work Brighter

With popular affiliate programs, you need to have a reason to buy through you instead of another affiliate. For example, in my niche, there are tons of affiliates for the same course launches and online business tools. Just promoting my affiliate link inside a blog post or on a resources page on my website, which are basic best practices for my competitors, isn’t going to be enough. Instead, I focus on marketing every program not only as seriously and consistently as I would my own product, but also on figuring out ways to make my offer unique from other affiliates.

For example, I’m an affiliate for a lot of popular programs around starting and growing my business. Many other affiliates for them offer bonuses for customers who buy through their affiliate link, but they’re usually just that person’s own products, regardless of how related it is to the main offer’s material. Instead, I host a group coaching/mastermind call for anyone who buys through my affiliate link. That way I’m not throwing them more content to consume, I’m helping them take action on the investment they just made.

For example, here’s a list of ways you can potentially edge your audience closer to a purchase:

  1. Custom landing pages
  2. Downloadable materials
  3. Calls to action
  4. Opt-in forms or data collection forms
  5. Email campaigns
  6. Remarketing ads
  7. Recommend products in your content
  8. Keep creating interesting content

All of these methods engage with your audience and build interest in the products you’re selling over time.

Even simple efforts like an email campaign can be all you need to close thousands in sales.

For example, here’s a look at a creative email sent by the brand Cook Smarts.


It starts with a helpful weekly meal prep menu. Each contains a link to a grocery list, and even makes specific product recommendations that complete the recipes the best. It’s the perfect segue from helpful content to affiliate links.

The email goes on to give helpful tips for cooking the recipes, and then ends with this short invitation from the brand:


Without being pushy, the brand invites you to re-engage with them on Facebook and asks you to share the love with your family and friends. The unique combination of helpful content, appropriate linking, and personal connection has the potential to make this email incredibly effective.

By combining a tool like this email, or any of the other tools above, with your blog, you’ll be positioned to engage and sell more as you study how to do affiliate marketing with a blog.

It’s not an easy process, but an affiliate marketing blog can stand the test of time and help you make money if you take the right steps.

4.2 Paid Ad Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing doesn’t require that you take the limelight. In fact, most affiliate marketers are probably not ever going to be the center of attention, and that’s okay. They still get paid, because they use paid ads.

But that doesn’t mean you can just sit back and relax. Hosting paid ads is a complex and time-consuming endeavor. They require experimentation. And from a merchant’s perspective, they want to know that the ads you run are both effective and on-message.

So in this section, we’ll take a closer look at steps you can take that will accelerate your path when learning how to do affiliate marketing with paid ads. If you want to learn how to create the ad itself, check out the step-by-step method given in chapter three.

4.2.1. Develop an audience-first approach

For those unfamiliar with paid ads and other paid media, the basics look pretty simple. A marketer puts up an ad, backs it with a budget, and users click if they’re interested.

But the reality isn’t that simple, especially the part about users being interested. While the ‘spray and pray’ mentality could work, it can also fall flat and fail to close any deals.

The solution then is to go with an audience-first approach from the start of your train on how to do affiliate marketing.

And to kick that process off, you need to learn as much as possible about your target audience.

Developing audience insights begins and ends with market research. To sum that process up, it means you need to find four essential points of information:

  1. Which products sell the best?
  2. What prices drive sales and profits?
  3. Where is the best placement for my ads?
  4. Are ads really the best way to sell in your scenario?

By conducting market research, you will be able to find products and craft ads that help you sell to online customers. Without the right data to base your decisions on, you’ll only be going on your gut when building an ad.

That isn’t likely to pan out.

Thankfully, there are numerous sources of information that are reasonably easy to access. Not all of them are free, but the price you may have to pay can be worth it once your ads are up and running.

Here are some sources to get you started:

Site Description
Pew Research Center Data based off of public opinion polling. Good for discovering demographics and what types of media help sales
US Small Business Administration Stats compiled by the US government about small organizations and their performance in a variety of industries.
IBIS World Requires payment, but able to give you incredibly detailed insight into global industries.
Facebook Audience Insights Free data from Facebook users’ public profiles that gives insight into shopping habits.
Statista Paid or free statistics on worldwide digital consumer activities.
Consumer Barometer Google’s offering to help businesses uncover how online buyers use the Internet.

Once you’ve done your research on your target audience, the next step to learn how to do affiliate marketing with ads is to make a guide that will help you stay on-message at all times.

These guides are commonly called ‘customer personas’ or ‘buyer personas’. Here’s what one could look like:

buyer personas


Of course, you don’t have to make it look pretty, but you should create something that helps you create ads that speak to your audience above all else.

That means making general bios, understanding your target audience’s goals and frustrations, and finding out where they like to shop. Equipped with this information, you’ll be able to target your audience with pinpoint accuracy.

4.2.2 Experiment

The key to successful paid advertising is to simply experiment.

Within every ad, multiple variables are always at play. Your copy, images, links, and even the ad type or positioning can ultimately make or break your efforts.

While you can always see what everyone else is doing, the only way that you can truly improve is to experiment.

So when it comes time to experiment as you learn how to do affiliate marketing, what are your options?

The gold standard of online experimentation when it comes to paid ads is known as A/B testing.


This is a method where you use a control ad and then change a single element on a duplicate. When running simultaneously, and for a long enough period, this will give you feedback on whether or not that one change made a positive or negative impact.

If positive, the idea is to keep the change and then build off it with another experiment. If negative, then you can move to another element to see if anything changes.

It’s also good to keep in mind that you’re still trying to build an audience with paid ads. While you may not take center stage, your merchant does. Just because you don’t have to deal with the audience in the long term doesn’t mean it’s not a consideration.

You still want to build an ad that provides a positive return on your investment and gives value to your customer.

4.3 Facebook Affiliate Marketing

Facebook has been the gold standard of social media for years, and it currently boasts more than 2 billion users worldwide. That means there’s a lot of potential to create a name for yourself by learning how to do affiliate marketing on this platform.

A big plus is that by participating in Facebook affiliate marketing, you won’t need to create a website or start a Google Ads account. You can start with a personal account, which you may already have.

And because Facebook is so popular, there’s a good bet that you can make money as a Facebook affiliate. In fact, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube are consistently the highest ranked sites for affiliates and influencers in terms of profitability.

facebook affiliate marketing


So what is your path to specialize with Facebook Affiliate Marketing? You actually have a number of options, starting with your very own personal profile.

4.3.1 Consider starting with your personal profile

If you don’t want to get complicated as you learn how to do affiliate marketing, you can start by just sharing posts on your personal page. All you need to do is find a product through your Affiliate Program, generate your affiliate link, and share it. It’s that easy.

Keep in mind that just because it’s easy doesn’t mean it’s effective. If your personal page is mostly followed by people who already look to you for recommendations, then you may see success.

Chances are, your personal page is just that – personal. Your family and friends may not like being sold to, and there’s no good way to accurately track your performance.

If you decide to go this way, the best tactic is not to sell at all. Instead, share updates that somehow naturally incorporate the product.

While you may have to be careful with the wording, it’s possible this can help you get the knack of how to do affiliate marketing without much risk or time investment.

4.3.2 Try creating a Facebook Group

The next best step to take with Facebook affiliate marketing is to create a dedicated group.

This method is similar to marketplace websites that post information about products or services with affiliate links, but it’s on Facebook.

Since Groups are opt-in, your audience will be more inclined to see what you’re posting and click on the links. When a sale is made, you get a commission.

Much like creating a website, you’ll want to start with your niche. You can’t just create a group that sells everything, so find a niche that allows you to recommend products with well-crafted posts. If the niche is right, you can resonate with your Group and sell more.

Starting a Group is easy, too. All you have to do is click on the top right drop-down menu of your personal account and click Create Group.

From there, you’ll be prompted to insert some basic information about your Group:

You’ll need to add some people to your Group to get started, and you’ll also need to decide how you want your Group to be set up. For example, closed Groups are findable, but you’ll have to moderate all of the requests to join. You’ll need to choose according to how much oversight you want to have.

And of course, you’ll need to take some time to make your Group’s page look nice. Create or find an image that you can add to the header, and then start posting relevant and conversation generating content immediately.

facebook group design

The beauty of Facebook Groups is that they have unlimited growth potential. It may start with a few of your friends who are interested in your niche but can grow as more and more users discover the Group.

A key point to remember is that you want to be engaging and build trust above all else. You may want to always provide affiliate links, but that can be seen as spammy. Curating helpful content is an integral part of this strategy that can pay off in the long run.

4.3.3 The Facebook Page option

If you want to take the most official route with Facebook affiliate marketing, the best approach to take is to create a dedicated Facebook page that acts as your ‘brand’. This can also be paired with a website or blog to expand your horizons as you master how to do affiliate marketing.

Much like a Group, your goal should be to populate your Page with a mixture of helpful content and affiliate links that simultaneously engages and sells. You can truly be as unique as you want to be.

The process for starting a Page is very similar to creating a Group. Start in the same drop-down menu, but select the Create a Page option.

Next, you’ll need to decide if you want to build your Page as a business or a community. Each option has its unique perks.

For example, Business Pages will allow you a better platform to display products that you’re selling. It’s a more direct indication of your objectives too, which can go a long way in building trust.

You can also have customers leave reviews, which may, in turn, bring in more business.

But the downside of a Business Page is that it can be challenging to build a brand that’s merely pushing customers to other brands. It can be confusing and may turn people off from what you have to say.

On the other hand, a Community Page can fix that problem by taking a more direct approach to your affiliate status. You can act as an influencer instead of a business.

Whichever option you choose depends on how you want to approach selling to your audience.

And of course, don’t forget to add a good profile picture, cover photo, and helpful information about what users can expect from your Page.

Pages are better used to keep your audience updated about what you’re doing or keep them in the know about the latest trends.

As long as you post engaging content and remember to push your affiliate links, then you can keep them engaged and have the opportunity to sell.

4.4 YouTube Affiliate Marketing

There’s a good chance that as you’re reading this, people around the world are viewing hundreds of hours of video. In fact, more than a billion hours are watched each day on YouTube, which is a staggering figure.

And when you add on the fact that YouTube is the second largest search engine on the Internet, you start to see a fairly compelling case for how affiliate marketers can use it.

So in this section, we’ll look at some ways you can learn how to do affiliate marketing with YouTube.

When you think about YouTube, it’s likely that you think about creating a channel that gets tons of views. But that’s not the only way to make money from YouTube.

YouTube affiliate marketing isn’t a new idea, and there are three simple but effective ways that you can create affiliate marketing content for your YouTube channel.

All you need is a channel, content, and an affiliate marketing link like we saw in chapter 3.

When considering how to do affiliate marketing on YouTube, the most common method is to simply include links to recommended products in the description of your video.

youtube affiliate marketing


Another method you can use is to put the link in the video itself via annotations or overlays.

affiliate marketing youtube


And last but not least, you should always insert a vocal call to action in your video if at all possible. If you don’t tell your viewer that it’s in the description or what the URL is, they may never find it.

Alternatively, you can also use the email collection ideas from the affiliate marketing blog section as a lead capture tool as well. The idea is practically the same only you’re using a video instead of a blog post.

And speaking of blog posts, the process for creating a YouTube video is fairly similar to that as well.

You want to find a topic that’s interesting, helpful, and is capable of driving a lot of views. In fact, you can use the same method discussed in that section, the skyscraper technique, to try to edge out your competition on YouTube.

In particular, there are three reliable types of content that you can use as you approach how to do affiliate marketing on YouTube. Let’s take a look at what they are and how to create them.

Product Review Videos

A product review is relatively straightforward, but there are a few ways you can go about it. Either you can review a single product in your niche, or you can compare and contrast multiple products.

In fact, some channels are completely built on product reviews and affiliate selling, like the popular Freakin’ Reviews channel.

product review videos


Research has shown that more than half of customers are more likely to buy a product featured in a YouTube video, so you know this method is tried and true.

And since you’re selling a product, this is a great way to feature it without being too sales-y. You can honestly point out the benefits and flaws of your product, give a straightforward opinion, and then tell your viewers to click your affiliate link if they want to buy it.

Here’s an example from the Freakin’ Reviews channel that features reviews of 10 different products. Each product is given a fair review, and a link is provided just below the video if users are interested in buying one for themselves.

When done correctly, you can earn some good commission without alienating anyone as you master how to do affiliate marketing

How-to Videos

Another good option for those considering how to do affiliate marketing on YouTube is to create a how-to video.

Just like review videos, there are plenty of how-to channels built specifically as YouTube affiliate marketing efforts. A good example is the DSLRguide channel.

youtube channels affiliate

The entire purpose is to help photography and videography newcomers and veterans learn more about their equipment. There are dozens of guides for every aspect of a DSLR camera.

[highlight]At some point in time, someone in your audience is going to need to know how to complete a task that requires your product. In those cases, the perfect how-to video can be wildly effective. [/highlight]


The goal is to keep your videos as informative as possible. By showing your user how to use the product, you guide them through the buying process. It’s the perfect blend of informative content creation and sales.

Here’s a good example from the DSLRguide channel that teaches viewers more about creating their own high-quality videos.

And of course, this style of video again makes it easy to put a link in your video or description that prompts a sale. That makes it a perfect addition to your YouTube affiliate marketing toolkit.

Unboxing Videos 

While it may feel strange at first, there’s something alluring about watching someone open a box with the hopes that the product inside will be a good one. That makes unboxing videos a perfect tool as you learn how to do affiliate marketing.

In fact, this particular unboxing video has more than two million views.

It’s once again a great way to subtly draw interest in a product that you’re selling as an affiliate. You can unbox the product, give a short review, and then push people toward your affiliate link.

No matter what type of video you create, you’ll want to make sure that your approach to YouTube affiliate marketing is balanced.

Serious content creators usually pick a niche and try to provide as much value as possible. Unfortunately, not all content creators are serious.

For instance, you probably don’t want your channel to look like this:


All of these videos are affiliate videos, but they’re too obvious. In fact, they’re basically spam and will likely get flagged by YouTube.

But more importantly, this doesn’t do you much good for creating a brand for yourself. All marketing is built on trust, and YouTube affiliate marketing is no different.

Focus on creating good content, then find ways to include your affiliate links. You’ll see much more success, and your audience will be much more profitable in the long run.

4.5 Instagram Affiliate Marketing

At the end of 2017, Instagram had an impressive 800 million active users per month, with a growth rate of about 25 million per month.

So it’s no surprise that marketers and advertisers are flocking to Instagram to sell their products. That’s why learning how to do affiliate marketing on Instagram can be an incredibly valuable tool in your repertoire.

When you think about how Instagram works, brands using an affiliate marketer (or influencer) instead of a paid ad makes sense. It’s easy to scroll past an ad that you know is trying to sell you something, but that’s not always the case when an influencer or affiliate posts something similar.

As we’ve seen with the other methods, Instagram relies on the trust built between the user and seller in order to make everything work.

And since Instagram is the preferred method for brand-influencer collaboration, it’s an excellent choice for newcomers who want to learn how to do affiliate marketing.

Instagram affiliate marketing


And when you consider the fact that Instagram’s influencer industry is currently worth more than a billion dollars, it’s even easier to see why Instagram affiliate marketing is worth taking a closer look at. Especially since almost 94% of marketers find Instagram to be effective.

So in sum, you should definitely consider Instagram affiliate marketing.

But how does it work? Let’s look at that.

4.5.1. Stick to your niche

Once again, it’s important to point out that effectively learning how to do affiliate marketing rises and falls on building trust and providing value. Your goal is to pick a niche and engage an audience in a way that makes them want to hear what you have to say.

On Instagram, this can make you more trusted than your favorite celebrity. And more importantly, it can help you sell your merchant’s products.

If you’ve done your research before stepping into your role as an affiliate marketer, then you’ll likely know what types of products you’re able to promote in your niche. For example, a high adventure Instagram influencer isn’t likely to peddle baby food. They’ll probably show off a backpack, tent, or hiking boots instead.

4.5.2. Aim for 2,000 to 10,000 followers

At first glance, these numbers might sound a little arbitrary. Why do you need thousands of followers?

For one thing, part of Instagram affiliate marketing is attracting the merchant you want to sell for. To do that effectively, you’ll need to qualify as a ‘micro-influencer’.

Micro-influencers are often just affiliate marketers who have an audience that’s big enough for brands to make a decent profit from. A recent study showed that Instagram users with followers between 2,000 and 10,000 have the highest overall engagement rates.

Instagram influencer average engagement rates


That means your goal, initially, is to hit this sweet spot.

But that’s easier said than done. How do you get more followers when you’re starting out?

The best answer is to focus on creating good, niche-specific content. You’ll want to make sure that the five core elements of each post are intact before all else:

  1. High-quality visuals
  2. An interesting caption
  3. Relevant hashtags
  4. Community oriented
  5. Fits the window or time allotment

That means if you have to, investing in camera equipment or a professional picture taking course could be a wise investment.

At the very least, give yourself plenty of time to practice and experiment with the elements you’re less comfortable with. Over time, you’ll improve and be able to gain more followers.

And even though it may be tempting, never buy followers. You might be tempted to think that a quick 1,000 followers wouldn’t hurt, but studies have shown that this will immediately hurt your engagement. Get your followers the old-fashioned way.

4.5.3. Curate feeds that people and brands want to see

Once you’ve built up a following, your next step is to stay consistent while you master how to do affiliate marketing. Over time, your Instagram feed will start to fill, and you’ll be able to have a distinct Instagram brand that your users can rely on.

For example, here’s the feed on an Instagrammer who uses the popular ‘bullet journal’ to help him with daily tasks, schoolwork, and just life in general:


You might not have ever thought that a journal could look that good, but that’s the point. With time and attention to detail, any niche can have a standout feed that looks like the one above.

And when you have a standout feed, brands will be more inclined to approach you. You can still look for affiliate offers in your niche, but the conversation can eventually become a two-way street if you’re patient.

[highlight]By providing a real feed that’s engaging to real people, you’ll be setting yourself and your merchant partners up for success.[/highlight]


The other side of the coin here is that you may not want to work with certain brands because you feel it compromises your authenticity. Selling the right product is just as important as having a good looking feed. 

4.5.4. Be active, consistent, and don’t forget your affiliate link

Success with Instagram affiliate marketing doesn’t happen overnight. You need to post consistently, build your audience, and work hard to make sure that everything comes together as you determine how to do affiliate marketing for you niche.

With time and experimentation, you’ll learn the best ways to engage with your audience. But until then, consider utilizing tools like this engagement heatmap to help you find the best days and times to post for your audience.


By posting at the right time, you’ll be better situated to engage and sell more to your audience.

And of course, don’t forget to drive your audience toward your affiliate products with an appropriate affiliate link.

No matter which affiliate marketing method you choose, the emphasis is always on providing value to your potential customer. You have to make people trust you enough to click your ad, link, or blog post. Then, you have to follow up with a value that prompts your audience to act further.

But knowing how to do affiliate marketing is only half the battle. The final question that you have to answer is: how do I build relationships with brands that will pay me to be an affiliate? We’ll answer that in the next chapter.

Choosing an Affiliate Marketing Program

Knowing how affiliate marketing works and how to do it are essential to your success as an affiliate marketer. But even if you’ve got your website, ad, or social media platform set up perfectly, you still need a merchant to partner with.

That’s where affiliate programs bridge the gap.

In this section, you’ll learn everything you need to know about affiliate marketing programs. You’ll see why they’re needed and learn more about some of the best programs available to you as a newcomer. But first, you need to know what they are and how they work.

5.1 Understanding Affiliate Programs

In concept, affiliate programs, which are also called affiliate networks, are pretty simple. All they do is provide a third party platform that allows merchants and affiliates to find and work with each other.

Merchants and affiliates can then sign up for the platform, find each other, and start to work together.

But behind the scenes, these affiliate networks are complex behemoths that do much more than help merchants and affiliate networks. They also provide some very essential services to both parties.

Just think about how much data gets exchanged between one affiliate and one merchant. Someone needs to track each and every action taken by the potentially thousands of customers that a single affiliate can bring in.

And when you multiply that by the thousands of affiliate marketers who are working with the merchants on the platform, you begin to see how vital these affiliate marketing programs really are.

For example, an affiliate program might help track:

  • How many people see a banner ad
  • How many people end up completing a purchase
  • How many clicks a link on an ad or site gets
  • Revenue generated by an affiliate for multiple merchants and offers

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Think about what would happen if no one tracked these data points. Affiliates would have a hard time getting paid, and merchants could potentially be ripped off by affiliates that present false results.

So between building relationships and tracking the entire affiliate marketing process, affiliate programs have their work cut out for them. When a program does a good job though, it makes all the difference in the world.

And in exchange for their services, most affiliate networks charge a commission for each action completed. It keeps their platforms free to use and gives you a better way to make money as an affiliate marketer.

Flavia Caroppo of AdEspresso on finding merchant partners and affiliate networks:

Flavia Caroppo, AdEspresso

As rule of thumb, always remember to select a merchant with an offering relevant to your audience.

Each merchant that’s worthwhile in pursuing often is part of a more extensive network of companies that extend their offers on an affiliate marketing platform. There are loads of affiliate marketing systems out there, but this doesn’t mean the product they offer are always Top.

You can’t blindly trust what you read. Once you find something that potentially could work for you, get in touch with the producer and ask as many questions as you can, and ask for samples or to have a trial period. If you must, invest some money to buy the good/service you wish to market as an affiliate and try it first.

There are many ways to discover what offers and traffic sources are working and where.

First: do your research.

Second: talk to as many affiliate managers and experienced affiliates as you can. Join Facebook Groups, hang out in forums (there are many free and a few paid forums that give out some real info), and look at follow-along campaigns for ideas.

Third, and most important: Survey your audience. Ask your followers what they’re most interested in and laser-focus your affiliate offers in the right direction. Don’t forget to offer something in return. Be clear on what they need to do and what you’ll give them in exchange.

As you’ll see in this chapter, affiliate networks offer an excellent solution to these problems. I want to walk you through some of the best affiliate programs on the web and show you how to get started with each.

By the end of this chapter, you’ll have everything you need to get started with your own affiliate marketing efforts.

5.2 Amazon Associates

First on the list of programs is Amazon Associates.

Amazon Associates has set the bar for affiliate programs since 1996. In fact, it was the first online affiliate marketing program in the world.

Since its inception, it’s been helping affiliate marketers make money by advertising to the millions of customers that shop on Amazon each year. When an Amazon affiliate shares a link that leads to a sale, they earn referral fees from the transaction.

And since thousands of businesses are learning how to sell on Amazon each year, the potential for affiliates to grow is seemingly infinite.

To get started as an Amazon affiliate, all you have to do is click the Join Now for Free button on the Amazon Associates page.

affiliate programs

If you already have an Amazon account, you’ll be asked to log into it to get started. If you’re not already on Amazon, you’ll need to create an account with some basic info first.

Once you see the classic Amazon progress bar, you’ll know you’re in the right place:

From here, you’ll be walked through a fairly extensive process that creates your Associates account.

First, you’ll be asked to tell Amazon which apps or websites you plan to promote on. If you have your own blog or website, this is where you’ll enter it. You’ll also be asked to divulge what your niche is, what you plan to sell, and how you intend to drive traffic and monetization.

amazon affiliates

Once you’ve completed the application process, the last step is just a quick security verification. Amazon prefers to give you a call, so make sure your phone number is correct in order to proceed.

And last but not least, you’ll also need to set up your payment and tax info with them at some point so you can get paid. You don’t want to work for free after all, and you should always pay your taxes.

At this point, you’re ready to start finding products to promote as an affiliate. And thankfully, that process is incredibly simple.

Start by finding the product search bar in your dashboard. It will look like this:

Here, you can insert terms and look for items that are in your niche. Or, you can click the top right tab and browse for items manually.

Once you’ve started your search, you’ll get redirected to a simple results page. Scroll through the items and find one you like, or keep searching until you’ve found what you’re looking for.

Once you’ve found the item you want to promote, the last step you need to take is to click the yellow down arrow on the appropriate product. This brings up the text link for your chosen product, which you can use to share in your promotions.

You can also shorten this link with, which may be a good idea if you intend to share the full link. Shorter links look better and will be less confusing depending on the platform you use.

Or, if you want to add a more in-depth view of the product to your site, you can click the Get Link button to generate some HTML code that you can copy and paste as needed.

When all is said and done, Amazon Associates is a tried and true program that has created thousands of successful affiliate marketers. As an Amazon affiliate, you’ll be an essential part of the largest online retailer in the world.

Here’s a final look at the pros and cons you should consider when deciding if you want to be an Amazon affiliate:


  • Approximately 1.6 million products to choose from
  • Free to sign up
  • Trust in Amazon means it’s that much easier to sell
  • Easy to customize for links or ads
  • Low payout thresholds


  • Cookies only last for 24 hours. Purchases made after are not attributed to you
  • By some standards, commissions are low
  • International payouts are difficult
  • Doesn’t work with PayPal

In the end, Amazon Associates is a tried and true affiliate marketing program that’s friendly to both beginners and veterans. You have more than a million products to promote, which means there’s something for every niche. It’s a great place to get started while you explore some of the other options in this chapter.

5.3 ClickBank Affiliate

I’ve mentioned ClickBank in previous chapters, as it’s one of the most helpful tools for affiliates who are starting to research which products they want to sell in their niche. As their information is completely open to anyone without an account, it’s a valuable tool.

But ClickBank is more than just a research tool. It’s also a fully functional affiliate program that can help you jump head-first into affiliate marketing.

ClickBank started out of a garage in 1998 but quickly grew to become one of the top retailing sites in the world. They currently boast more than $3 billion in sales each year.

Because of their success and 20-year history, they’re an excellent option for affiliates no matter what your expertise. With tons of products to promote and a wide variety of merchants to partner with, they’re hard to pass up.

To become a ClickBank affiliate, you’ll need to start an account if you want to start earning revenue. Input your personal and payment info, and then finalize your account to get started.

You’ll also be asked to complete a quick survey that helps ClickBank give you a better experience once you’ve finished the process.

Once you get through the setup, the rest is relatively simple. As a freshly minted ClickBank affiliate, you’ll have a huge database of resources at your disposal. This can help you learn more about what ClickBank has to offer and answer any lingering questions you might have.

And to find the products you want to promote, you can head over to the marketplace. Here, you can search for specific items, or browse the sidebar for a wider look at what ClickBank has to offer.

affiliate marketing clickbank


Once you input a search term and get your results, here’s what the product page will look like:

As you can see, there are usually quite a few options to choose from. You’ll have the product’s title, a short description, and then some additional information that helps inform your decision.

Here’s a closer view of one such breakdown:

In this case, you’re given the average commission per sale, a breakdown of the niche the product is in, and a few different links to the merchant’s website. Use these to conduct further research and see if you want to promote the product.

Once you find the offer you want to promote, the rest of the process is simple. Just click the Promote button on the page, and then copy and paste the URL from the screen.

You can now add this link to your promotional efforts. When a user clicks through and makes a purchase, you’ll receive your commission.

It’s that easy.

Being a ClickBank affiliate is one of the easiest ways to get started with an affiliate program that offers high commissions with a simple structure.

Here’s a last look at some of the pros and cons you can expect as a ClickBank affiliate:


  • Huge selection of products that fits a wide variety of niches.
  • Many products have very high commission rates.
  • Promotes recurring commissions.
  • Easy to use and simple link generation procedure.
  • Abundance of resources to help you learn the ropes.


  • Large selection of ‘spammy’ products that waste time and undermine credibility.
  • A lot of competition for high-value products.

If you’re ever nervous about partnering with an affiliate program, ClickBank could be your best option. Their reputation precedes them, and they can help you grow at your own pace.

In the end, there’s no denying that ClickBank is one of the best affiliate programs for newcomers to affiliate marketing. The entry requirements are low, and it’s a relatively safe way to get your feet wet with an affiliate program.

5.4 eBay Affiliate

The eBay Partner Network is eBay’s interpretation of an affiliate program. They give affiliates the tools they need to promote eBay’s products with as little fuss as possible. No matter how you choose to market products, eBay’s affiliate program can be put to good use.

Unlike some of the other affiliate marketing programs in this chapter, as an eBay affiliate, you’ll be working directly with eBay and their products. While you’ll be working to a small degree to help sellers, the primary relationship is between you and eBay.

And just like Amazon, you’ll be working with a platform that businesses want to sell on. Growth is virtually assured.

As a bonus, eBay doesn’t require you to work with them exclusively. You can be an eBay affiliate and still work with other merchants and programs to make additional income.

To get started, you’ll need to apply to join their affiliate program, which takes about five minutes. It’s by far one of the easier application processes.

All you need to do is sign in to an existing account, or register a new account with eBay to get started.

ebay affiliates

Once you sign in with your account, you’ll be prompted to verify a few pieces of information, select your country of residence, and then you’ll be done. Now all you have to do is find products, generate your affiliate link, and start promoting.

And thankfully, eBay makes that easy for you. You have two main options to create your affiliate links, and both take hardly any time at all.

First, you can browse eBay for a product that’s in your niche, copy the URL, and paste it into your eBay affiliate dashboard.

ebay affiliate dashboard

You’ll then be given your affiliate link, which you can use in your own content.

The second way is even faster, but it requires you to install a Bookmarklet icon in your Bookmarks Bar. That may sound confusing, but it’s pretty simple.

All you have to do is find the icon in your eBay dashboard and then drag it to your Bookmarks bar.

affiliate marketing ebay

Once you’ve added it to your bookmarks bar, all you have to do is click that bookmark when you’ve found an item on eBay that you want to promote.

It will generate a URL for you, which you can then add to your blog, ads, or social media.

And once you’ve generated your affiliate link, you can start using it with the content you’re sharing on your chosen platform. If everything is working as it should, you’ll begin generating revenue from audience members that buy the products you promote.

To wrap things up, here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons of being an eBay affiliate:


  • Large range of products to choose from with no limits.
  • Commissions range from 40% to 80%.
  • Fast payment system that works with PayPal.
  • Incredibly easy to generate links.
  • Buy it Now buttons can shorten purchase times.


  • Some consumers prefer to buy new, not used or through auctions.
  • Auctions often last longer than affiliate cookies, which means you don’t get paid.
  • eBay’s selling platform can be confusing and turn away buyers.

eBay is one of the most trusted buying and selling sites in the world, which makes it the perfect place for newcomers to affiliate marketing to get their feet wet. With how easy it is to sign up and generate links, there’s almost no reason to not be an eBay affiliate.

Plus, with how flexible your affiliate links are, you can generate any type of content to drive traffic and revenue. It’s the best type of low-risk, high-reward affiliate marketing you could ask for.

5.5 Commission Junction

Commission Junction, which has recently been rebranded as CJ Affiliate by Conversant, is a 20-year-old affiliate marketing program that has been helping affiliates and merchants since day one.

According to their website, they work with twice as many Internet Retailer 500 companies than any other affiliate program. They also boast that merchants favor their site twice as much as other affiliate marketing programs.

And when you take a closer look at everything they have to offer, that claim seems to hold up quite nicely. Here’s the vast list of niches that you can find on their site, not to mention the all-inclusive ‘other’ category:

comission junction affiliate


So with a reputation like that, it’s not hard to see why it should be high on your list when considering which affiliate program to choose.

But to truly know if it will work for you, you’ll have to sign up first. And just like our other programs, that’s a relatively simple process that can start on the homepage.


Start the process by inputting your basic information to become a CJ Publisher.

And don’t worry, Publisher is just their word for affiliate. You won’t be getting into anything you’re not prepared for.

CJ Publisher

Next, you’ll be asked to verify your email, and then redirected to a page where you’ll fill out your information in greater detail. Much like other affiliate programs, you may need to already have a website that you can associate with your account.

Once completed, you’ll be able to sign in to your dashboard, which will look like this:

And the final step that will get you set up completely is to complete your Network Profile.

Think of this like a short resume that helps match you with potential merchant partners. You’ll need to write a short bio for yourself and indicate how you intend to push traffic to your merchant.

This will ultimately determine if merchants want to partner with you, so fill out as much as you can.

Once you’ve set everything up, you’ll need to navigate to the ‘Advertisers’ tab.

Here, you’ll see an extensive list of potential merchant partners already waiting for you.

You can also browse how much potential there is to earn with them, along with a breakdown of what your task will be.

In the image above, all of the options shown say EPC, which is short for earnings per click. Or, more specifically, Earnings Per One Hundred Clicks. All of Commission Junction’s affiliate earnings are based on EPC, so you’ll need to be able to drive traffic to succeed on this platform.

That means mostly bloggers or social media based affiliates tend to use the CJ affiliate program. Since ads require money to generate clicks, it’s all too easy to lose money running an ad that exceeds your revenue.

To find merchants more suitable to your needs, you’ll want to use the left sidebar’s options menu to fine-tune your results. Insert your niche and any other specifics that will help you find your perfect fit.

Once a merchant has caught your eye, you can click on their icon to get a more in-depth view of their operation. This includes the terms of their program and a short bio.  

If everything is to your liking and you feel you have something to offer the merchant, you’ll want to click the Join Program button on their profile. Depending on the merchant, your approval times may vary. Many applications are instantaneous though, so you won’t have to wait long.

Once your chosen merchant has approved your application, you need to find the links that you’ll use to drive traffic. To do that, navigate to the Links tab on the header menu. You’ll see a page that looks very similar to the Advertisers page, like this:

Except now, all of the options you see are different links that you can add to your marketing efforts. Find one that fits your content, ad, or social post, and then add it as needed.

And depending on how you intend to use the URL, you’ll be able to select between HTML, Javascript, and Click URL options.

At this point, you’re now signed up and using Commission Junction to generate affiliate income. All you have to do is continue finding new merchants and offers that match your niche and audience.

Here’s a quick summary of some of the pros and cons of using the CJ Affiliate Network:


  • They’ve been around for years, and their reputation is solid as one of the best affiliate programs in the world.
  • Tons of well-known merchants use the platform.
  • Merchants can seek you out, which improves your ability to grow and network.
  • Flexible for bloggers and social media marketers.


  • Better advertisers also mean more competition amongst affiliates.
  • Hard for newcomers. Success depends on the status of your application and credentials.
  • Variety between payment terms can be confusing.
  • Not always the best for advertising.

Becoming a CJ affiliate can be a smart move if you’ve got the experience to go out and impress the merchants on the platform. It’s still possible to succeed as a newcomer on CJ Affiliate, but you’ll have your work cut out for you.

5.6 Rakuten Affiliate

Last but not least is the Rakuten Affiliate Network.

For seven consecutive years, Rakuten has been voted the number one affiliate marketing network. They also currently boast more than 100 million orders per year, which is no small feat.

With that kind of reputation, it’s tempting to want to jump straight into being a Rakuten affiliate. But the reality is that Rakuten is very selective, and isn’t afraid to suspend your account if you don’t meet their standards.

Nonetheless, I want to show you how easy it is to get started selling with them. Just like the other affiliate programs, all you need to do is get started on their homepage.

rakuten affiliate


Just like the other affiliate programs, you’ll need to go through a rather extensive registration to get started. In this case, you’ll input everything from your online brand’s info to where you want to set your earning payout thresholds.

Once you’ve signed up and signed in, you’ll be at the Rakuten affiliate dashboard. To start finding merchants and affiliate links, you’ll need to select the Programs tab, which will redirect you to a page that shows off just how vast Rakuten’s offerings are:

Find your niche, or search for it in the search bar located in the top right corner.

Once you’ve found your niche, you’ll see a menu much like the other affiliate programs we’ve been looking at. You can browse through, click on each company’s profile, and even dig deeper into what offers they’re promoting.

Find the offer and merchant that suits you best, and then click on the Apply button to proceed.

One of the more unique elements of the Rakuten affiliate program is that most of the merchants are heavily involved in the affiliate screening process. If you’re not a good fit, don’t be surprised if the answer comes back no.

But once you’ve gotten approval, the rest of the process is simple. Find the offer that fits your content or ad, generate your link, and then start earning money as an affiliate. Since there are quite a few larger brand names using the Rakuten affiliate network, you’ll stand an excellent chance to start earning quickly.

Here’s a quick summary of some of the pros and cons of using the Rakuten Affiliate Network:


  • Free to use.
  • Thousands of merchants to choose from, many of which are household names.
  • Fairly intuitive to use for affiliates.
  • Contains good resources to learn more.


  • Payouts can be unpredictable with no definite schedule.
  • They don’t work with PayPal like other affiliate networks.
  • Rakuten is very selective and often denies smaller affiliates.

In the end, Rakuten may be best left until you’ve established yourself as a proven affiliate marketer. It’s one of the best affiliate programs in the world, and they work hard to keep it that way.

Now that you know a bit more about some of the affiliate programs that are out there, take some time to explore them for yourself. Discovering the best affiliate program and merchant for your niche may take time, but it will be worth it.

Don’t just stop with the affiliate programs in this chapter. There are tons of smaller options that can still be quite lucrative. Just be sure to do your homework and avoid any potential scams.

Once you’ve picked an affiliate marketing program, you’ll have completed your journey into affiliate marketing. You’ll officially have your dream side hustle, which may one day take you to new heights.

But there’s still one final ingredient that every entrepreneur needs: motivation. So in the final chapter, I’m going to tackle that.

Successful Affiliate Marketing Examples

Everything you’ve learned so far can help you become a successful affiliate marketer with time, patience, and attention to detail.

Yet success isn’t always about knowing what to do. It’s also not always a fast process. Yes, there are plenty of ways to make money online, but you’ve picked affiliate marketing for a reason. And it’s likely because you’re dedicated to building a long-term revenue stream.

But often, we need to look for inspiration from others to help motivate our own success. If someone else can earn money as an affiliate, then why can’t you?

To become a successful entrepreneur, you need the right mindset. Finding the right affiliate marketing company, program, or platform will only get you so far.

In this final chapter, I want to share some successful affiliate marketing examples with you. We’ll look at a few different affiliate marketers, assess their online presence, and see what methods they’ve used to build success. You’ll see many of the tips and insights from previous chapters applied here that will further prove their worth.

And hopefully, like a good motivational speech, these affiliate marketing examples will fire you up and get you ready to start your affiliate marketing journey.

So without further ado, let’s get inspired.

6.1 A Successful Affiliate Marketing Blogger

As you’ve seen throughout, blogging is a great way to drive traffic and promote products as an affiliate. It’s a tried and true method that can lead to consistent and long-term profits.

But affiliate marketing blogs aren’t always successful because they’re filled with expert advice and just the right wording. Sometimes, they’re successful because of one person who’s willing to hustle and never give up.

One such case is the story of Rae Hoffman Dolan, also known as Sugar Rae. She’ll be the first of our inspiring affiliate marketing examples.

successful affiliate marketing examples


When you look at Rae’s rap sheet, you’d probably think that she’s always been a digital marketing genius. Here are some of her claims to fame:

  • She helped found the digital marketing agency PushFire
  • She’s been featured in numerous major publications like Fortune, USA Today, and Forbes
  • She’s presented over 100 times at conferences across North America

Then, of course, she’s a highly successful affiliate marketer. At least, that’s how she got started.

So it’s clear that she’s reached a level of success that few people accomplish, but her success isn’t the whole story.

Yes, she’s done a lot in her career, but the reason she’s made our list of great affiliate marketing examples is due to where her journey started.  

Specifically, because her story started out of desperation and necessity. And it started with an affiliate blog.

In 1998, Rae’s son suffered a massive stroke. You can hear Rae tell the story and what followed after in this interview she did with the Good Life Project.

As a foster graduate and a stressed out mom with nothing but a GED, she didn’t have many places to turn. In her time of dire need, she looked online to see if any support groups could help her process the ordeal.

Finding none, Rae decided to start a non-profit website that acted as the hub of a support group for other parents and families that needed help after a stroke.

But it wasn’t until 2001 that Rae stumbled upon affiliate marketing. Websites cost money to run, and while the support group was active, it wasn’t producing anything to offset costs. In order to support the site, she started selling products as an affiliate.

Then around 2005, she branded herself under her nickname Sugar Rae and started a blog to share her insights.  As a very outspoken blogger, she’s made it clear that’s she’s a thought leader and influencer first and affiliate marketer behind it all.

But most notable about Rae Hoffman’s affiliate marketing blog is that it seems to bend all the rules of blogging. There are no images to help engagement. She doesn’t always write in short paragraphs. And at times, she gets incredibly feisty with her readership.

So how is it that she’s so successful?

When you consider her site from every angle, two elements stand out.

First, she’s incredibly transparent. She speaks her mind and backs up her claims as best she can.

She also does her best to let you know that many of her links are indeed affiliate links and you should view them as such. Here’s the disclaimer she puts on her blog:

You can’t get much more transparent than that. Everything she says comes from a place of sincerity though, and you can read it in her tone.

The second reason why she’s so successful with this style is that she somehow manages to stay consistent across the board. On her Affiliate Tools page, she keeps it to the bare minimum. She presents a brand she trusts and then offers a one to two line explanation.

Once again, it’s hard to imagine a format that’s simpler or more transparent. She goes straight into what her goals are and forces you to trust her by showing she has nothing to hide.

And to take that trust a step further, she stays entirely within her niche of digital marketing. You won’t find any of the diet pills or insurance she sold in the early 2000s on her site anymore. Instead, just a succinct list of relevant and helpful digital marketing advice.

It’s a simple recipe for success, but Rae Hoffman shows us that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel in order to create a successful affiliate marketing blog. All you really need is a niche, good content, consistency, and patience.

In many ways, she’s the gold standard of affiliate marketing examples for taking the harder path to success and doing things right.

As of March 2018, Rae has officially retired from the digital marketing industry. And in her unique style, she announced it with one last blog post.

successful affiliate marketers


But within her story, you can see all of the trademarks of what it takes to be a successful affiliate marketer. She found the right approach, the right affiliate marketing company, and created a space for herself in a highly competitive niche.

If you’re considering the blogging route, check out more of her advice through exclusive interviews she’s shared on the web.

6.2 A Successful YouTube Affiliate Marketing Example

Not all great affiliate marketing examples are veterans though. Some are just starting out.

When most people think about making money on YouTube, they typically consider monetizing their channel. Or in other words, they allow YouTube to place advertisements at the front of their videos. These ads then generate a small amount of revenue for the channel with each view.

While monetization may work for some, the fact of the matter is that you need hundreds of thousands of views on a single video in order to make much money at all. The only channels that get that volume of viewership have been around for years and have thousands of subscribers.

So for small content creators, you either need to learn how to get more views or resort to affiliate marketing.

That’s where affiliate marketing can make a huge difference.

So next up on the list of inspiring affiliate marketing examples is a small channel that you probably wouldn’t expect.

YouTube content creator and entrepreneur Greg Preece has only had a YouTube channel since May of 2016. His channel, which he named Start Standing Up, hasn’t grown the way you would typically think a successful channel should.

youtube affiliate success

At the time of this writing, he has less than 10,000 subscribers. By the standards of most successful YouTubers, that’s a tiny number.

But despite his relatively small following, Greg has seen some amazing success with his channel by relying on affiliate marketing. In fact, he shared in a recent video that he makes about $100 per day through affiliate marketing on his YouTube channel.

That’s almost $3,000 per month with fewer than 10,000 followers. By YouTube standards, that’s a pretty amazing feat. It’s also why his channel makes our list of inspiring affiliate marketing examples.

So let’s look at how he’s accomplished this degree of success to help inspire your own efforts.

The first thing that’s notable about Greg’s channel is that he’s selected a very specific niche for his channel that he doesn’t stray from. To be exact, his niche is online selling and drop shipping, as evidenced by his most popular videos:

Once again, it’s worth noting that he doesn’t have hundreds of thousands of views on even his most popular videos.

But by staying in his niche, his audience has a set expectation for his channel. They know if they want advice on selling, drop shipping, or other digital advice, they can find a video by Greg.

Another way that he makes his niche incredibly clear is by creating curated playlists. For example, one of his playlists is completely dedicated to people who are interested in learning how to sell t-shirts online.

t-shirt affiliate marketing

This type of playlist is much more specific than just general advice videos, as it provides an in-depth look at a single topic. If someone were to find Greg’s channel while looking for this niche topic, they would have a variety of topics to learn about.

It also can be used to help set your audience’s expectations about upcoming content. You’ll notice he created these videos in a series about a month apart. That type of schedule can help you build anticipation and engage your audience in the moment.

And speaking of engaging with your audience, that’s another element that Greg does well across the board.

YouTube now gives channel owners the ability to post on a Community page. Much like a Facebook or Instagram feed, this allows creators to have conversations with subscribers apart from video creation.


By engaging with his audience outside of the standard video format, Greg offers another route to build trust. He shares what he’s working on, books he’s reading, and asks his audience what topics they want to see covered.

Interestingly enough, there aren’t any affiliate links shared on his Community page, which seems strategic.

Instead, he consistently puts his affiliate links on every video:


By doing his best to direct his viewers to these links, he’s built an effective flow to his videos that helps him sell more as an affiliate. And since he’s making $100 per day with so few subscribers, you know all the elements he’s put together are working.

While Greg’s channel is small and easy to overlook, it’s a clear case that quality trumps quantity when it comes to affiliate marketing. By focusing on providing engaging and helpful content, he wins the trust of his audience and then makes a trusted recommendation. In the end, all parties involved get one step closer to achieving their own goals.

If you’re considering YouTube or any content-based platform for your affiliate marketing, use Greg as an example to guide your efforts. It may take some time, but you’ll start seeing wins even with a small audience.


It’s tempting to imagine that when you’re starting out as an affiliate marketing that you’ll never make it. As the underdog, and perhaps with only a little experience, there’s no denying that you have a long road ahead of you. It doesn’t help that seeing many successful affiliates are years ahead of you.

But keep in mind that every affiliate has to start somewhere. And like Rae and Greg in the examples above, those beginnings are often humble.

Just because getting started as an affiliate marketing can be hard doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

As you’ve seen in the affiliate marketing examples in this chapter, you don’t need to have a lot of flair or a huge following to make money. All you need is a niche, consistency, and dedication to the task at hand.

And in this ebook, you’ve learned everything you need to know to get started as an affiliate marketer.

You’ve learned how the relationship between affiliates, merchants, and customers works in everyone’s favor.

From there, you dove deep into the different methods that affiliates use to earn commissions from their merchant partners. By finding the right one, you can set yourself up for success.

Then, you learned how to lay a solid foundation for your affiliate marketing efforts. Whether you use a website, ads, or any other method, your niche, program, and content have to be spot on.

And once you lay the foundation, the next step is to finalize your affiliate marketing method. You can use a blog, social media, or many other platforms to succeed.

Then, we took an in-depth look at different affiliate marketing programs that you can associate with to find products and build successful relationships with merchant partners. The right affiliate marketing company can set you on the path to success for years to come.  

And finally, we looked at a few top-notch affiliate marketing examples that can inspire you to succeed no matter what your circumstances are.

Affiliate marketing is a journey that can teach you about digital marketing, self-reliance, and entrepreneurship like nothing else. Now, it’s up to you to put what you’ve learned into practice.