The Basics of Affiliate Marketing Explained

Affiliate marketing is one of the most popular ways of making money online. That’s not to say that affiliate marketing is easy – it takes hard work and a lot of research to be a successful affiliate marketer. However, it does have lower barriers to entry than other money-making techniques. 

If you have an Internet connection, you can become an affiliate marketer.

What is Affiliate Marketing? 

Affiliate Marketing is a form of referral marketing wherein you earn a commission for every purchase someone makes based on your recommendation of the affiliate’s products or services. 

The concept of Affiliate Marketing is simple. You recommend a product or service to someone who is likely to find it useful. The person you recommended your product/service to makes a purchase based on your recommendation. You get paid a commission based on the Purchase. 

How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?

Affiliate marketers sign up to affiliate programs – either directly through the company whose products or services they want to promote, or using an affiliate network such as CJ Affiliate (Commission Junction). They then promote the products that they think will sell well, and they get paid based on their results.

For the inquisitive you, here is the link to the Affiliate Program run by Flipkart:

The companies that actually sell the products to consumers are called merchants. These merchants may run several different kinds of rewards for their programs, such as:

  • Cost Per Action (CPA): You get paid for each person you refer that performs a desired action, such as signing up for a trial account on a subscription service.
  • Cost Per Thousand (CPM): You get paid for every one thousand unique views of the affiliate’s advertisement.
  • Cost Per Click (CPC): The affiliate pays a nominal amount per unique visitor who click on their advertisement, assuming that the visitor is from a qualifying country.
  • Cost Per Lead: You are paid for each visitor that gives verified contact details to the merchant (e.g. telephone details handed over to an insurance company via a “compare insurance costs” website).
  • Commission: You are paid a percentage of each sale that you generate. This is the most popular affiliate program structure for merchants that sell physical products. Amazon’s affiliate program works this way. You earn money whenever visitors follow links from your blog/website or app, to the merchant website, and make purchase(s). 
How do Affiliate Marketers Promote The Affiliate’s Products or Services?

The most common way of promoting an affiliate’s Products or Services is through a blog or website. An Affiliate Marketer would build a niche audience by sharing useful and relevant ‘content’ on his/her blog or website. It is to this audience that the marketer would recommend (via a link) products or services that he thinks is relevant to them. When someone finds the recommendation useful, follows the link and makes a purchase, the affiliate marketer earns a commission. 

In a similar manner, Affiliate Marketers use Social Media to promote the Affiliate’s products and services. 

Getting Started With Affiliate Marketing. 

It’s easy to get started with affiliate marketing – all you have to do is sign up with an affiliate program, and start promoting the affiliate’s products via your Blog/Website, Mobile App and/or Social Networking Accounts. 

The most successful affiliate marketers spend a lot of time researching their niches and tweaking their promotion strategies.

Choosing The Best Products. 

One mistake that new affiliate marketers make is trying to sell too many different products. This waters down your efforts, and means you end up with hundreds of sales pages that don’t work. Focus on one product at a time until you find the “formula” that works in your niche, then expand gradually to offer more products.

Test and Track. 

Another mistake that affiliate marketers make is to assume that once they’ve found that magic “formula” they’ll never need to worry again. You should never stop learning, testing, and tweaking your websites. Consumers’ taste and preferences change, new products get launched, and new affiliate companies with better commission structures appear on horizon.

Sign up for a Google Analytics account and use it to track your visitors and referrers, and see what’s going on with your website. Keep trying new things – you may be surprised what you learn.

Diversify Your Promotion Efforts

Don’t just rely on your blog or website for promoting your products. Use social media, experiment with PPC (Pay per Click) marketing yourself (assuming the affiliate allows it), and start a mailing list to promote your products. The more traffic streams you make use of, the greater the number of potential conversions you can earn.


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