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What Is An Affiliate Program And How Can You Use One To Make Money?

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What Is An Affiliate Program And How Can You Use One To Make Money?

Read time 13 min read
What Is An Affiliate Program And How Can You Use One To Make Money

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What Is An Affiliate Program And How Can You Use One To Make Money? 

Affiliate marketing is seen as one of the easiest ways to make passive income. But it is not as simple as joining an affiliate program and sleeping, hoping dollars follow you to bed. Done correctly, however, affiliate marketing can be a way to earn so much passive income that you may never need your day job again. 

So, what is an affiliate program?

Affiliate marketing is the cheapest marketing method for companies, and the easiest way for online businesspeople to earn. The concept involves an affiliate, a product creator, and a consumer. The affiliate advertises or promotes products to the consumer. When the consumer buys a product (or takes any other action) on the product creator’s site, the affiliate earns a commission, which is a percentage revenue from the sale. To do that, product creators and companies create an affiliate program, also known as associate program, which is an agreement that the affiliate earns a given percentage of all the sales they drive. 

Affiliate programs differ from one company to the next with some companies offering better terms for affiliates than others. As an affiliate marketer, you need to choose the best affiliate program which allows you to make money by promoting products. 

Businesses that understand affiliate marketing have the advantage of spending less in advertising. Unlike other forms of marketing, a business only pays for marketing when they see the results. To the affiliate, this type of marketing means they do not have to develop products as they can sell established products whose value they trust.

Did you know? 16% of those entering into e-commerce sales have landed on a merchant’s site through affiliate marketing. (hosting tribunal)

What Is An Affiliate Program And How Can You Use One To Make Money

Amazon affiliate earnings report(niche site project)

How Popular is Affiliate Marketing?

There are so many other stats that show the immense growth of affiliate marketing and affiliate programs. Most giant companies have also started affiliate programs, which increases the opportunities for the affiliate marketers who need to earn affiliate income. Some affiliate program examples include Fiverr’s Affiliate Program, Wealthy Affiliate Program, Amazon Affiliate Program, AliExpress Affiliate Program, eBay Partner Network, and so many more. All a marketer needs to do is choose a few (one may not earn you enough) that fall in their niche of choice and start promoting. 

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How Much Can You Earn as an Affiliate?

Companies are spending more on affiliate marketing and that means more earnings for affiliates. According to Statista, companies might be spending more than $8.2 billion on affiliate marketing by 2022. That will be a great figure as companies spent $5.4 billion in 2017. 

According to a study by VigLink, 9 percent of the top affiliate marketers made more than $50,000 in 2016 from affiliate marketing. Additionally, more than 65 percent of merchants claim to earn between 5 and 20 percent of their total revenue from affiliate marketing. Merchants with the highest earnings from affiliate marketing have been at it for at least five years and this is why they earn as much as they do. 

What Is An Affiliate Program And How Can You Use One To Make Money

(webdigitalblog.com) Bluehost earnings dashboard

For both the merchants and the marketers, affiliate marketing allows them to earn revenue passively. Marketers only need to grow their websites or blogs so that there is a steady flow of traffic, and they are good to go. The marketers need to make their visitors feel compelled to buy the products they promote. 

The only problem with this method of making money is that there are millions of marketers all fighting for customers. You have to find a unique way to get customers coming back to your blog or website. 

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How Do Affiliate Programs Work?

Affiliate marketing was developed to spread the responsibilities of marketing to different parties. Marketers have different capabilities, and hone in on their skills to perfect the marketing process. 

The affiliate program is complete with the three parties mentioned above:

  • The seller (product owner, store, or creator)
  • The affiliate (advertiser or promoter)
  • The consumer (buyer of products or services)

The seller can be a solo entrepreneur or a large entity, a vendor, retailer, or product creator. Anyone with a product or service to market is a seller. Products can be physical objects, subscriptions, or services, or digital products such as videos. The seller doesn’t have to actively promote the product, but some of them do and actively share in the revenue with the affiliates. 

What Is An Affiliate Program And How Can You Use One To Make Money

A common landing page for affiliate conversions(Wordstream)

The affiliate, also known as the publisher or the advertiser, is a company or an individual that promotes products on behalf of the seller. Their work is to persuade the consumers to buy the products. Once the consumer buys the product, they receive a percentage of the revenue from the sale. Affiliates have audiences they market to, and they work to meet the interests and needs of the target audience. 

The consumer doesn’t need to know that they are part of an affiliate network. This is a person who buys (sometimes they don’t need to buy) products by following a link on the affiliate’s blog, website, social media, or YouTube channel. 

How Do Affiliate Marketers Earn?

How Do Affiliate Marketers Earn an Income?

You will earn when the consumer buys the product or shows interest in the product or service. It depends on the affiliate program you join. Programs measure affiliate sales differently which results in different ways of earning. There are three main ways affiliates get paid:

  • Per Sale: Here, you will only earn when a consumer buys a product. The consumer needs to click the link from the affiliate’s website and buy a product. This doesn’t increase the purchase price for the buyer. Per sale affiliate programs are the industry standard. 
  • Per Lead: This is a more sophisticated program where the affiliate is paid based on lead conversions. Here, the affiliate needs to show the consumer why they should visit a merchant and perform a given task. These tasks might be signing a form, downloading a product, subscribing to a monthly newsletter, or taking a survey. 
  • Per Click: Pay per click involves sending traffic from the affiliate’s website to the merchant’s website. This means that the affiliate needs to be engaging enough to make customers want to move from their website to that of the merchant. 

Did you know? Mobile optimization can be a major conversion boost. As 51% of online shoppers stated they were more likely to buy if the site was optimized for mobile.

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Developing a Strategy for Affiliate Marketing

Understanding affiliate marketing for beginners and choosing the best affiliate programs to make money is easy. However, making money is an entirely different game. The key skill here is persuasion. 

Your strategy should start with understanding your audience. You need to understand what the audience wants, what they are using currently, and then seek to give them products that add value to their life. When you understand your audience, you are better placed to choose an affiliate program and products that will meet their needs. Next, you need to choose the best affiliate program. 

What Is An Affiliate Program And How Can You Use One To Make Money


How Do You Choose an Affiliate Marketing Program?

For starters, you need to choose a niche that interests your audience. For instance, if you communicate to webmasters, you need to sell them related products. Such products might include webmaster tools, SEO guides, plugins, hosting services and much more. Therefore, you need to choose an affiliate program whose sellers offer the services or products your audience needs. 

There are a number of factors that must be taken into account with affiliate marketing:

  • Commissions – How much do you want to earn? It goes without saying that you will earn more selling cars than you will selling lighters. However, you can sell more lighters in a month than you can cars and machines. Some affiliate programs offer more commissions than others. With Amazon, you will earn between 1 and 10 percent for different categories of products. With some other products, you earn up to 50 percent. Subscription products offer the highest amount of commission, as the customers might keep subscribing after the first subscription. 
  • Product Reputation – You might earn more when you market new products on new affiliate programs, but it may be difficult convincing customers to try new products. It is even harder convincing customers to buy from a program or products that have a shady reputation. You can start by reading reviews of the program and the products before you delve in. The trick is to offer value to your audience and not send them to buy substandard products. 

What Is An Affiliate Program And How Can You Use One To Make Money

(petagadget.com) Amazon earnings dashboard

  • Competitive Prices – Technology has made it easier for consumers to compare prices. If you are always recommending high-priced products, you might lose customers to your competitors. Again, concentrate on offering value to your audience. 
  • Market Saturation – Some niches are so crowded that you can hardly make a living selling products in that niche. If you are seeking to join a niche with a lot of established businesses, you will have a tough time trying to earn a few bucks. 
  • Payment – How do you want to receive payments? It can be weekly, monthly, immediately after sales, or any other mode. You need an affiliate program that pays you fast and through means that are convenient to you. 
  • Other factors to consider include cookie life (duration within which a consumer should buy for you to get a commission after referral), approachability (is the merchant available for questions), and terms and conditions of the site. 

Choosing an Affiliate Marketing Channel

Once you choose your affiliate programs, you need to choose a marketing channel. A good channel is one that keeps your audience engaged and receptive to want to purchase the products you promote. 

Some marketing channels to leverage include:

  • Influencers – An influencer is someone who has the power to influence the buying decisions of people. These are people who already have a huge following or people who trust them. If you are an influencer in one niche or the other, you can use your influence to market to people. 
  • Blog – Blogging is the standard channel for many affiliate marketers. A blogger only needs to rank high in search engines to increase the conversion rate and sell more. The blogger earns from spreading the word on the benefits of a product and getting their audience to take action. 

What Is An Affiliate Program And How Can You Use One To Make Money

Example of PPC landing page (Buy LP Design)

  • Paid search microsites – If you do not want to start a blog, you can create microsites within the partners site or on other sponsored listings of search engines. These microsites are not part of the partner’s main site, but they are linked to it in a few ways. Unlike blogs, these microsites are simple and they require less to maintain. 
  • Email Lists – Email lists are mostly available to complement other marketing channels. For instance, you can use your blog to collect email addresses from your audience and then market to them through the emails. You can leverage email marketing by hyperlinking products on your email. 
  • Large Media Websites – If you have a website that generates a lot of traffic such as a news website, you can leverage the traffic to make some money on the side. You can use banners and affiliate links in between content. 

Affiliate Marketing for Beginners: Step-By-Step on How to Make Money

Choose Your Niche and Your Channel 

The easiest way to start affiliate marketing is to start a blog. You might already have followers on your social media accounts, but a blog always comes in handy. Today, starting a blog is easy as platforms such as WordPress and Squarespace offer drag-and-drop website building tools. These platforms also offer great blogging and SEO tools so you can get started within a short time after creating the website. 

A free blog might be great for starters, but it is limiting. Instead, choose a self-hosted blog which gives you the freedom to grow your business. 

After you create a blog, choose your niche and your affiliate program of choice and you are good to go. Before you get to creating your blog, however, you need to understand what an affiliate is and the best affiliate networks to work with. 

Social media and other marketing channels are great too, but they should complement the marketing on your blog. This way, you will have audiences from different platforms bringing you earnings. 

Choose Products to Promote

If you choose to work with Amazon, there are thousands of products you can promote. However, you only need products in one category, products you are well-versed with, and products your audience is interested in. 

If the affiliate program only offers a single product, then all you have to do is start marketing. Affiliate program examples such as Hostgator only offer one product, hosting. If this is what you choose, you will have an easy time marketing as all you have is a single product. 

Create Content to Promote Affiliate Products

Once you have a channel, the next step is to create content. 

Some affiliate programs require you to have content with sufficient site traffic and monthly views before they can accept you into the program. This means that once you lock on your niche and your program, you need to start by creating quality content to attract audiences. 

Blogs and videos are the most common types of content you can create. The content you create should not be hardselling as no consumer goes online to look for articles that sell to them. Consumers are looking for the best products in a certain category, how to do something, or how to solve a problem they might have. As an advertiser, you need to solve their problem and integrate an affiliate marketing link into the content. 

You need to keep your content fresh to convince the consumers to buy through your affiliate links. 

Optimize your Content for Search Engines

Once you have good quality content, you need to tell Google and other search engines what you have. There are so many ways to optimize your content for search engines than we can cover in this article. Check out keywords, link building, scannability, short URLs, and much more to optimize your content. 

By optimizing your content, consumers can find your website on search engines, and provide you with more traffic and greater earnings. 


Having an astute understanding of affiliate marketing is the first step in becoming a successful affiliate. Earning from these programs requires you to put in the work. Once you have enough content, enough links, and enough traffic, you can now reduce the rate at which you create content and instead focus on optimizing the content and the site to bring in more traffic. 

Diib®: Giving You Core Insights Today!

Affiliate marketing sites have created channels through which many marketers have taken control of their income. This is achieved by mainly focusing on performance-based revenue generation. Success in this form of marketing, however, relies on the level of skill and effort needed to deliver positive results.

If you are thinking about starting your own blog to promote products, Diib, offers a variety of core services that will improve your rankings and increase domain authority.

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Amazon affiliate, there are a variety of products to promote, and placing links is easy and stress-free.


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Daniel Urmann

Author Bio:

Daniel Urmann is the co-founder of Diib.com. Over the past 17 years Daniel has helped thousands of business grow online through SEO, social media, and paid advertising. Today, Diib helps over 150,000 business globally grow online with their SaaS offerings. Daniel’s interest include SMB analytics, big data, predictive analytics, enterprise and SMB search engine optimization (SEO), CRO optimization, social media advertising, A/B testing, programatic and geo-targeting, PPC, and e-commerce. He holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) focused in Finance and E-commerce from Cornell University – S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management.


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