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What is Affiliate marketing? – The Definite Guide to Becoming a High-Earning Affiliate Marketer

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Affiliate marketing is becoming more and more popular either as a side hustle or as a full-time job. According to a recent study, affiliate marketing is worth over $12 billion globally and has shown no signs of stopping. Affiliate marketing makes up about 15% of global digital media advertising revenue and according to Google, affiliate marketing search grew by 44% between 2020 and 2021.

If there’s a better time to become an affiliate marketer, then it is now. 

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a type of business that allows you to sell someone’s product for a commission. As an affiliate, all you need to do is promote the product. When someone buys or at least clicks on the link, you get a commission. 

Why Should I Go into Affiliate Marketing?

The real question isn’t why; but why not. Affiliate marketing has a lot of pros and I’m yet to find its (reasonable) cons.

Some benefits are:

  • You don’t need much capital to start
  • You are not in control of the goods so shipping isn’t your problem
  • Customer care services aren’t your cup of tea
  • You get to work from home
  • Passive Income

Even though I’d love to tell you that there are no cons, it’s a lie. Some of the cons are:

  • It’s a lot of hard work
  • You need patience, consistency, and dedication to build a following
  • People won’t bite until they’re sure about you (credibility)

Do you see why I said that they weren’t reasonable cons? What job does not require hard work and dedication? Definitely not an online job.

How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?

This is one of the most asked questions about affiliate marketing.

The affiliate marketing system is made up of three active components. Without all three, the affiliate can’t make money.

Do you know how the normal business model is wholesaler/producer–retailer–consumer? This is almost similar to the affiliate marketing model.

Producer – affiliate – the consumer. This is the affiliate marketing chain. Read on to know what each does.



The producer is at the top of the food chain or food pyramid if you wish. The producer could either be a company or a person. It could be someone who is starting a drop-shipping business.

If it isn’t a drop-shipping business, the producer is the one who has a store where all the goods are kept. He’s the one that handles the shipping, customer care services, etc. and hence, the one with the deeper pockets.

It doesn’t even have to be a product or good. It could also be services rendered like a cleaning service, tutorials, etc.

The producer stands to gain from affiliate marketing because, through the influencers or affiliates, his business gets more exposure which can turn into sales.


The affiliate is the middle man. He pitches a good or service to his followers and if they buy, he will make a profit.

You know how it is in real estate where the bigger the sale the higher your commission is going to be?

That’s exactly how it is in affiliate marketing. The kind of product, the niche of said product and the number of followers the affiliate has can make him a ton of money.

His job is to promote the product he is selling to his followers and then pray they buy.


It doesn’t matter how well you pitch or how expensive for that matter, if the customer doesn’t buy, you won’t get anything. 

They are the drivers of sales and obviously, they’re what keep this world balanced. I mean, imagine if everyone is selling and no one is buying; A lot of environmental hazards, isn’t it?

How Can I Get Paid as an Affiliate Marketer?

There are three basic ways one can get paid as an affiliate. They are: Pay Per Sale, Pay Per Lead and Pay Per Click. I know! You’d love to have Pay Per View, right? 

Anyway, let’s get into them.

Pay Per Sale

This is the most common way. Basically, this is the way it is in real estate and every other business that gives commission to its workers.

This model is quite self-explanatory. This is when the affiliate gets paid only when the product he is promoting is bought by the customers. 

That is, the customer has to commit to a said product before you get money.

Pay Per Click

This type just requires your followers to click on the ad. It redirects them from your page to the producer’s website.

Pay Per Lead

This is a more complex system. Here, all your customers do is go on the website (the producer’s page) and complete the desired action. 

Basically, the higher the conversion rates, the higher your money.

It may be rare, but there is a lot of pay per lead affiliate programs.

What Channels Do I Need to Make Money as an Affiliate?

It is a myth that you need to own a website to be able to become an affiliate marketer. You don’t. 

However, there are channels you need to become an affiliate. They are social media influencers, blogging, email listings, YouTube videos, microsites, social media sites, large media sites, etc.

Before we get into the explanation, we first have to know what a referral link is. 

A referral link is a personalized link you get when you sign up with an affiliate program. It is given to you so that that they’re able to trace where a customer is coming from and the person who referred him.

Social Media Influencing

Influencers make a lot of money. Well, at least those who know what they’re doing. An influencer can convince her followers to buy a product. It isn’t as easy as it sounds.

An influencer, according to the terms of the contract, can be required to post pictures or post videos on her story or do some live videos to explain what the product is about. 

If she can convince her followers to buy using her referral link, then she’ll get a commission.

A social media influencer is usually required to write #ad in her caption. She will also need to tag the producer. 

To even make for more sales, a social media influencer should add her referral link to her bio.


Affiliate marketing is one of the surest ways to make money as a blogger. In fact, it is one of the steps a blogger follows to monetize his blog.

If you have a blog or you plan on starting one, then this is for you. 

To implement affiliate marketing on your blog, be sure to include links on your blog posts, banners, pop-ups and even video clips. 

The advantage (or disadvantage) of a blog is that it is usually niche-specific and so you will most likely advertise only niche-related items or services for higher conversion.

For example, a sewing blogger will not be able to get profit if he advertises cooking ware. However, a housekeeping blog will be able to advertise a variety of home-related goods and services which could also include sewing and cooking products. 

The point is to know your niche and focus on it.

YouTube Videos

There are over 3 billion YouTube users. What does this number mean? It means that videos are not going out of existence anytime soon. 

Videos help you connect more to your audience and if you already have a YouTube channel or want to have one, you can make money as an affiliate marketer. Affiliate marketing is one of the ways YouTubers make money.

All you need to do is add your referral link in the description and then talk about the product or services. Don’t forget to write #ad.

Email Lists

If you have an email list or plan on setting one, affiliate marketing is a good way to make money.

You can include your referral link (hyperlink) in the email you send across. Just like most things online, you need to have built a rapport with your audience. 

Social Media Sites

With your social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc., you can make money as an affiliate marketer. Get this: You don’t need to be an influencer for this to work.

On Facebook for example, if you have a lot of ‘friends’, this will work. You can also tag some people for more exposure, all you need to do is post the referral link and that’s it. 

You can also share the referral link with your groups.


Microsites are subdomain sites. They can either be owned by a company or by an individual. 

 Microsites are more niche and product-focused and have a lot of SEO going on. 

For example, on your self-care blog, you could write a post about good shaving creams one can try for optimum hygiene. On a microsite, however, you dedicate each post to a particular brand of shaving cream. That is, your microsite will then be for just a particular product.

A microsite can be for a short period and if done correctly can result in high conversion rates.

Large Media Sites

These kinds of sites are designed to have millions of visitors. Due to its size, it offers more exposure and hence more conversion.

Steps to Becoming an Affiliate Marketer

There are 5 basic steps you need to follow to become a successful affiliate marketer. They are:

1. Review Products in Your Niche

The essence of this is so that when you start selling, your followers will know that you’re a credible source. Use different products and talk about them on your blog, YouTube, social media, etc. Talk about the pros and cons of each product and allow for open dialogue between you and your followers.

As time goes on, you must have built a loyal following and can now add your referral links to the products.

2. Collect Email Listings

Email provides a more personal relationship between you and your followers. To do this, you give a call of action to your followers to maybe download a pdf or e-book or whatever, but before they download it, they’d have to put in their emails. This way, you can get as many emails as possible,

The tip for this is: Don’t overdo it. If you make the process very difficult or give your followers a hundred things to do, they’ll lose interest.   

3. Use Webinars or Videos Too

If it is possible to show your followers how a product works, why not o it? You’re more likely to sell a product that people can visualize its working than one they have read a review on. 

You can use stories on Instagram or any social media, and you can even make short clips for your blog.

4. Choose an Affiliate Marketing Program

When you’ve built a following (you don’t have to wait till you’re Kylie Jenner), choose an affiliate program of your choice. Make sure you’re comfortable with everything before committing to a program. 

5. Scale Your Growth with PPC Advertising

Pay Per Click helps you to grow your business and make some money. As I said earlier, you’ll get paid when someone clicks on the link even though he doesn’t buy. This way, you make money faster even though it may not be as substantial as when someone buys.

Tips on Being a Good and Well-Paid Affiliate Marketer

Most of the highest-paid affiliates didn’t start in one day and have had a lot of failures when they had just begun. 

Here are some tips that you need to follow to succeed as an affiliate marketer. 

1. Develop a Relationship Between You and Your Followers

This is the first tip. You need to have a rapport with your followers so that they will be able to trust you. This way, you’re also able to establish your expertise in that area.

2. Start Reviewing products and Services

As is said earlier, this is one way to build a loyal following. Comparing products to each other (especially from the same niche) has proven to be a good way to get sales. When doing this, make sure to be detailed and very articulate.

3. Get Personal

Sell products that you can use. This way, you can establish your brand as a go-to brand for your niche. To even do this better, you will need to get email listings so that you can connect to your audience on a more personal level.  

4. Choose Campaigns with Care

Don’t waste your resources marketing a bad product. A bad product is still a bad product no matter your marketing skills. And even if you make money through it, you’ll be putting your brand in danger.

5. Use Different Channels to Sell

Don’t just focus on one source. Sell through your email, social media, etc.

6. Be Up-to-Date

Know the latest trends in the industry. Affiliate marketing is getting bigger and hence the rules of the game keep changing. Know your local laws regarding affiliate marketing and constantly look for ways to improve.


Generally, in business, there’s always a better way to make more profit. As an individual too, you can always find alternative sources of income.

Smart e-commerce entrepreneurs constantly look for ways and opportunities to make their businesses grow. And one way to do this is to take your business to the next level by getting another source f income.

This doesn’t mean that you should get a second business, no; but finding ways to complement and grow your already-existing business by offering more value to your customers or followers.

Affiliate marketing is one of the most lucrative revenue streams for an e-commerce entrepreneur. If you aren’t participating, it’s time for you to start.

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