online marketing

What is Affiliate Marketing and Does it Work?

online marketing


Affiliate marketing has grown over the years to become one of the most profitable ways to earn, and is a key source of income for entrepreneurs, bloggers, and webmasters. Affiliate marketing is expected to become a $6.8 billion industry by the end of 2020.

The intermediate network between the publishers, i.e. marketers who sell products and the merchants who create these products and services along with the affiliate programs is known as an affiliate network. These merchants work with the affiliates to bring their products and services to the customers.

In affiliate marketing, the affiliate sells the products and services offered by the merchant on their own and earn a commission on every sale. Not only does this help the affiliate earn a good monthly income but also helps merchants sell more.


How Do You Start Your Affiliate Marketing Journey?

In its true essence, affiliate marketing involves directing the traffic from your website to another through a link on your website. When you send a visitor to another website and he makes a purchase, you get a share of the revenue. The start-up costs for this is very low and the returns are good. This is how it works:


1. Create a Web page:

The first step in affiliate marketing is to create a web page of your own – either a website or a blog where you can put up links for products or services that you are going to recommend.


2. Pick a Niche:

There are several things that affiliate marketers sell. You will need to pick one which is your strong suit or one that you are comfortable working around. You will need to keep working on it until there is a regular cash flow.


3. Find something that you can promote:

Several affiliate networks connect sellers with affiliate marketers. Google Adsense is the easiest one which works on a PPC basis. If you want to associate with some kind of services you can also tie up with Commission Junction. There are also certain networks that help sell digital products. You can associate with anyone based on the niche you have picked.


4. Affiliate site content:

If you want to set up an affiliate marketing site, you can either go with a resource site – one which work around how to articles and posts or you can set up a review site – where you can write about products that you have tried. Resource sites provide banner ads or links which will direct you to click them for more details.

You can also join affiliate programs like the Amazon Affiliates and and put up their banners. Even digital products have affiliate programs like the Norton Anti –Virus Affiliate Program and the Symantec Affiliate Program.

To keep your visitors coming back to your site, you will need to keep adding fresh content regularly. If you are working with a review site, you provide a link or a banner that leads the visitor to the merchant’s site where the product can be bought. You won’t need to keep updating content on your review website as often as you have to do it for a resource website.


5. Targeted traffic:

It is not necessary that everyone who visits your website will click on the link. So, if you want people to click on the link, you want people who are more likely to click on the link, to visit your website. You can do that by paid advertising which has a call-to-action.

You can also use sites like CraigsList or US Free ads to post free ads. Another method is article marketing which means you will need to work hard, become a credible resource and get top rankings on Google or you could use email marketing.

Always rely on organic traffic rather than paid ones. You can start with paid traffic, but your website must have the factor that attracts traffic on its own. Without targeted traffic, there is no way you can succeed in monetising your website.


Selecting Your Content Management System (CMS)

CMS is the software on which your affiliate website is based. Tasks, like accessing the admin panel, customizing designs, or adding content, are done through this program. In earlier days you would need to use a programming language and compile a code to run things. But now you can use many prebuilt CMS to manage your website.

There are various CMS you can choose from, but we will advise you to use WordPress which is the most used CMS in the world. You can opt for a WordPress web hosting company or install WordPress CMS plugin for your current website. Moreover, it is completely free and open source for you to access all the codes. Let us see how using WordPress helps you with your affiliate programming:


Simple and Friendly

As many as 48 of the 100 leading blogs in the world is backed by WordPress today. It is widely adopted for its ease of use and simplicity. Even a beginner without any technical knowledge can navigate and manage his website efficiently. It is very easy to add posts, make design changes and set up your website using WordPress.



WordPress is being used by more than 74,652,825 websites all over the world. Each day over 12,000 new domains are registered under WordPress. It is one of the most reliable CMS that you will ever get. Many entrepreneurs have been using WordPress CMS for years without any trouble.


Universal CMS

WordPress was started as a blogging platform but now extended its service even to business websites. You can make any kind of website by using plugins and themes available for WordPress. You will get over 43,139 WordPress plugins to use on your website. Popular brands like BBC America, Forbes, and Fortune use WordPress as their CMS. You can use WordPress to base any type of website is it eCommerce or a review website.


SEO Friendly

WordPress gives you various options to optimize your website and content for search engines. It is easy to generate traffic with WordPress websites as they are search engine friendly. You have greater chances of developing a significant traffic flow through organic search by using WordPress.

A great place to learn about WordPress and everything affiliate marketing is at Wealthy Affiliate. Below is a lesson from Wealthy Affiliate on WordPress.


Payment Methods for Affiliate Programs

Each affiliate program is different from each other and offers a different payment cycle. Here are the three basic payment methods used for different affiliate programs:


Pay Per Sale: The most common payment method in affiliate programs pays on the number of sales made by the affiliate. The merchant can either offer a percentage of the sale as payment or have a fixed rate of commission for each of them.

Pay Per Click: Here, the payment is based on the number of clicks made by the client instead of an actual purchase. The clicks on the affiliate website should lead to the merchant site and the client should stay there for at least 30 seconds. This method usually has a fixed rate of the payment.

Pay Per Lead: This payment method is based on the amount of clicks leading to the merchant site ending up in signing up as leads for the merchant site. Here, the client fills out their information on the merchant site.


Best Affiliate Programs

Affiliate programs, though designed to benefit both the affiliate and the merchant, leans towards the marketers more. Thus, it can be tricky to choose the right one when you’re starting out. Here are some of the best affiliate programs offered out there.

Amazon Associates: With over a million and a half sellers to its name, Amazon has the largest affiliate network. The site is good for both beginners as well as advanced affiliates for its good commissions and the various customizations offered. Here, you can promote the things you like, through either a blog or a review. Your commission increases as the volumes of your sales go up and you get paid not just for your products, but when anything from the site gets sold.

eBay: An affiliate can earn in several ways on eBay. You can either sell new products that you no longer need or buy something and resell the same at a higher value. You can also ask people to join and purchase items from eBay and get paid for that too. All you have to do is find the affiliates link at the bottom of their homepage, fill a form, and get started.

Rakuten Linkshare: One of the oldest affiliate partner networks is as profitable as it is user friendly. This program gives you the flexibility to decide which page you can send your traffic to. Thus, it helps you while promoting different kinds of affiliate offers. Another feature that strengthens the flexibility in promoting different offers is the dynamic rotation of multiple versions of the ad you want to run. This also offers a very simple signup process.

Clickbank: Clickbank is amongst the top 100 affiliate programs and is one of the very first ones to be ever launched. The commissions are high with a wide variety of products available on the website. The sign-up process is as simple as clicking the promote button and filling up a registration form. You start getting paid as soon as people starting clicking on your link and making purchases.

Avantlink: At Avantlink, the merchants are first supposed to provide the details of their affiliate program along with the commission charges. The affiliates can then make use of this information in order to make more sales in the market. The website takes care of all the accounting matters post that. This platform is good for beginners for its simple usage and a wide variety of available products.



It is advisible to learn how to be an effective affiliate marketer. The two training sites that we would recommend are; Wealthy Affiliate and Affilorama. Both sites provide lots of good information on affiliate marketing. To check out our review of Wealthy Affiliate click here. To check out our review of Affilorama click here. Hope this helps.


All the best,


If you enjoyed this post, you might want to check out these articles as well;
Online Retail Growth And Its Benefits To Affiliates
Build Up your Passive Income during Retirement with Affiliate Marketing
Top 10 Tips on How to Become a Good Affiliate Marketer





10 thoughts on “What is Affiliate Marketing and Does it Work?”

  1. Paul Murray

    Thank you, Ed, for your article that shows me that with Wealthy Affiliate and WordPress, I am on the right track. Your suggestions of Clickbank and Avantlink are also extremely helpful. I am tired of reading negative reviews about affiliate marketing that were done by people who were either victims of scammers or who simply didn’t try hard enough, long enough. I think you have given some good advice for people who are looking to make money through affiliate marketing, not just pay a registration fee or fees and then get nothing in return.

    1. Ed

      People need to be careful, as there are a lot of scams on the internet. One thing that I can say for sure is that Wealthy Affiliate is definitely not a scam. If you do the training and stick with it, you will be successful. 

  2. justin

    Hey i really enjoyed this article, affiliate marketing does sound complicated but it does get easy over time. I didnt know what I was really doing when I started, but I quickly learned thanks to Wealthy Affiliate. I know there are things I still need to learn and get better at, which I keep working on those things. I am glad it is a lot easier to build websites now without having to know how to code.

    1. Ed

      Hey Justin. Wealthy Affiliate really does make learning how to be an affiliate marketer easier. They have everything you need, all in one website.

  3. Jojo

    I am into affiliate marketing since a few years without much success but I am struggling on, learning and improving and one day I will succeed I just know it. You really have to be persistent in order to succeed with affiliate marketing and ready to work hard but the possibilities are endless. Some people make thousands of dollars a day and they hardly work at all but they have of course worked very hard to get to that stage.
    I have not heard of avantlink before so I think I will check it out. One of the fun things with affiliate marketing is that you learn all the time.

    1. Ed

      I completely agree Jojo. With affiliate marketing, you are learning something new every day. Good luck with your business!

  4. HI Ed, great article!
    I’ve learned a lot from your article, I just started my training at Wealthy Affiliate and I really enjoy it, before I really didn’t have any idea about affiliate marketing until I stumbled WA.
    Thanks for giving more information about affiliate marketing it helps me a lot because i’m a newbie to this business. I agree with you that Amazon is one of the best affiliate programs and it’s very easy to get a link, but I struggle to use eBay and Rakuten that is why I decided to just stick to Amazon. I have no idea about ClickBank and avantlink, I guess I better check it too.

    1. Ed

      Thank you Amie, I’m glad that you enjoyed the article. You are in the right place being at Wealthy Affiliate. Just follow the training, and you will be successful. Good luck!

  5. pmbaluka2016

    I’ve always thought that Affiliate Marketing is too complicated to understand. I remember someone shared to me about it sometimes back and I wasn’t even willing to listen because I had lied to myself that it’s something I can’t understand.

    When I joined Wealthy Affiliate, everything seemed very straight forward, I even regretted the time I wasted out there. I’m now learning and every step looks very interesting.

    The only challenge am facing now is that am not sure which affiliate programs to take and which to avoid. Currently apart from Wealthy Affiliate, am also using Amazon and Clickbank, do you think these are enough or I need more. What are your suggestions?

    1. Ed

      Those are fine to start with. As you learn more about affiliate marketing, you will become more comfortable choosing which affiliate programs best suit your niche. Best of luck with your site!

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