Affiliate Marketing 101: What is it and How to Start

Affiliate Marketing 101: What is it and How to Start

 Imagine if you could make money from anywhere, at any time, and even while you’re sleeping?

This is affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing refers to the practice of a person or company marketing products through which an affiliate is paid a commission. Affiliates simply search for products they like, promote them and get a share of any sales. Affiliate links are used to track sales from one website.

Affiliate marketing can be a great way of driving sales and generating significant online revenue. The new push towards less traditional marketing strategies has proven to be extremely beneficial for both marketers as well as affiliate marketers.

Affiliate marketing spending in the United States increased from $5.4 million in 2017 to $8.2 trillion in 2022. This means that there is plenty of opportunity for anyone looking to grab a slice of the pie.

This step-by-step guide will show you how to start your affiliate marketing business and what you can expect.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a way to spread the responsibility of product marketing and creation among parties. It leverages the talents of many individuals for a more successful marketing strategy, while also giving contributors a share in the profits. Three parties are required to make this happen:

Both the seller and the product creators.

Advertiser or affiliate.

The consumer.

Let’s look at the complicated relationship between these three parties to ensure that affiliate marketing is a success.

Both the seller and the product creators.

A seller is an entrepreneur, solo or large, who has a product to sell. You can either sell a product, such as household goods, or provide a service like tutorials in makeup.

The seller, also known as the brand is not required to actively participate in marketing. However, they can be an advertiser and make a profit through the revenue sharing associated affiliate marketing.

The seller could be an online merchant who started a dropshipping company and wants to reach new audiences by paying affiliate websites to promote their products. The seller could also be a SaaS business that uses affiliates to sell its marketing software.

The publisher or affiliate.

The affiliate, also known as a publisher is a person or company who markets the seller’s product to potential customers. The affiliate promotes the product in order to convince consumers it is valuable and beneficial. Affiliates receive a share of any revenue if the consumer purchases the product.

Affiliates may have a specific audience they market to, and often adhere to their audience’s interests. This helps affiliates attract the most potential customers to their promotion.

The consumer.

The affiliate system must be able to generate sales in order to function.

Affiliates will market the product/service through the appropriate channels, whether that be social media or YouTube videos. If the consumer finds the product valuable or beneficial, they can click the affiliate link to checkout at the merchant’s site. Affiliates receive a share of any revenue if the customer purchases the item.

Keep in mind, however, that the customer has tobe aware of the fact that you, as an affiliate, receive a commission on the sale.

Federal Trade Commission requires affiliate marketers to clearly and conspicuously disclose any relationship with retailers. This allows the consumer to make a decision about how much weight they will endorse.

A disclaimer like “The products that I’m using in this video were given by Company X” provides your viewers with the necessary information and allows them make an informed decision about buying the affiliate product.

Types of affiliate marketing

Sometimes it’s not clear if an affiliate marketer actually used a product they’re promoting, or if it’s just for the money. It may be irrelevant to the customer either way.

Sometimes, however, customers may distrust affiliates, especially if they don’t know that the product has been tested and approved by the seller.

Pat Flynn, an acclaimed affiliate marketer, divided affiliate marketing into three types: unattached; related and involved. This was to distinguish between affiliate marketers who are closely connected to a product from those who aren’t.

We’ll help you choose the right route by breaking down each category.


The unattached model of business means that affiliate marketers have no relationship to the products or services they promote. They are not experts or authorities in the niche they are promoting, and cannot make any claims about the product’s use.

A typical PPC campaign (pay-per click) is run by an unattached affiliate. It uses an affiliate link to hope that shoppers click the link and make a purchase.

Affiliate marketing is attractive because it doesn’t require commitment. However, it’s best for people who just want to make an income and not invest in the product or customer relationship.


While they may not use the product or services, the related affiliate marketing offers a happy medium between involved and unattached. It is for people who are related to the niche market but don’t necessarily need the product. These affiliates are often well-known and have some influence within the niche.

You might promote a brand of clothing that you have never tried before but have a following through a YouTube channel or fashion blog. You would be considered an affiliate marketer in this instance.

This type of affiliate marketing has the advantage that the affiliate is able to generate traffic. However, they could risk recommending a poor product or service if it’s not something they have used before. This could potentially cost them their audience’s trust.


Involved affiliate marketing refers to those who have a close relationship with the product or service that they are promoting. Affiliates have tried the product and are confident in its quality. They also have the authority to make claims about it.

Instead of relying solely on clicks per click, affiliate marketers involved use their personal experiences using the product in marketing efforts. Customers can also trust them as trustworthy sources of information.

This type of affiliate marketing is more laborious and takes longer to establish credibility. However, it can lead to greater returns down the line.

How do affiliate marketers get paid?

Affiliate marketing is a quick and easy way to make money online without having to sell a product. How does an affiliate make money after linking the seller and the consumer?

It can be difficult to know the answer.

Affiliates don’t have to purchase the product in order to receive a kickback. The program will determine how the affiliate’s contribution is measured.

Affiliates may be paid in many ways.

Pay per sale

This is the most common affiliate marketing structure. After a consumer buys the product through affiliate marketing strategies, the merchant pays an affiliate a percentage. The affiliate must convince the investor to purchase the affiliate product before they receive compensation.

Pay per lead.

Pay per lead marketing programs are more complicated and compensate the affiliate for converting leads. The affiliate must convince the consumer to visit the merchant’s website and take the desired action, whether that’s filling out contact forms, signing up to a newsletter, downloading software, or other actions.

Pay per click.

Affiliate marketing is all about driving traffic to websites and convincing customers to take action. It is not surprising that many people believe affiliate marketing is about SEO (search engine optimization).

Although organic traffic is great, it’s not enough to sustain affiliate marketers in a saturated market. This is why many affiliate marketers use PPC.

PPC (pay per Click) programs encourage affiliates to refer consumers from their marketing platform directly to the merchant’s site. This means that the affiliate must engage consumers to the point where they will go to the merchant’s website from the affiliate’s. Affiliates are paid according to the amount of web traffic.

Two concepts are common in PPC:

  • CPA (cost-per-acquisition): With this model, the affiliate gets paid each time the seller or retailer acquires a lead, which is when an affiliate link takes the customer to the merchant’s online store and they take an action, such as subscribing to an email list or filling out a “Contact Us” form.
  • EPC (earnings-per-click): This is the measure for the average earnings per 100 clicks for all affiliates in a retailer’s affiliate program.

Pay per install.

This payout system pays the affiliate when a user visits the merchant’s site and installs a product. Usually, this is a mobile app or software.

If a retailer has a budget for $0.10 per install via an affiliate program and it generates 1,000 installs, the retailer will be charged $100 ($0.10 x 1000)

Why be an affiliate marketer?

Passive income

Affiliate marketing is a way to make money while you’re asleep, unlike regular jobs that require you to work. You will get continuous returns on your investment in a campaign as customers purchase the product over the next days and weeks. Your work is worth money long after it’s finished. Your marketing skills will bring you steady income even if you aren’t at your computer.

No customer support.

Selling products and services to consumers requires that they deal with them and make sure they are happy with the product or service.

The affiliate marketing structure will take care of customer service and satisfaction. The sole purpose of an affiliate marketer’s job is to connect the seller and the customer. After you have received your commission, the seller will deal with any complaints from consumers.

You can work from your home.

Affiliate marketing is the ideal solution for someone who hates the idea of going to work. Affiliate marketing allows you to launch campaigns, collect revenue and work from your home. You can work from home and do this job without even stepping out of your pajamas.


Many businesses need to pay upfront startup fees and a cash flow in order to finance the products they sell. Affiliate marketing is easy and affordable. There are no hidden fees and there is no need to create products. This line of work can be started quickly.

It is convenient and flexible.

You can be a freelancer and set your own goals. You can also redirect your path if you feel the need. You can choose the products you are interested in, as well as your hours. You can choose to diversify your portfolio or concentrate on straightforward campaigns. Additionally, you won’t be subject to company regulations or restrictions as well as any ill-performing employees.

Performance-based rewards.

You could work as many hours as you like and still make the same salary if you have other jobs. Affiliate marketing is all about your performance. It’s all about what you put in. Your revenue will increase by improving your writing skills and reviewing. Finally, you’ll get paid for the exceptional work that you do.

Common Affiliate Marketing Channels

Affiliates have many common practices that ensure their target audience is interested in the products they promote. Affiliates may not advertise products the same way. There are many marketing channels that they can use.


A content creator with the ability to influence the buying decisions of large segments of the population is known as an influencer.

This person is well placed to profit from affiliate marketing. This person already has a large following. It’s easy for them direct customers to the seller’s products via social media posts and blogs. They receive a portion of the profits that they have helped create.

Influencer marketing campaigns are very popular on Instagram or TikTok. Here, brands partner with experts and authorities in their niches. A campaign can include product reviews, live videos, account takeovers, or photos depending on the deal.

Although influencers may have their own brand and visual aesthetic, it is important to tie your brand elements together to increase brand recognition and recall. You can do this by using apps such as Instasize which allows you to quickly modify and customize the creatives of your campaign with a single tap.


Bloggers are able to rank organically on search engine queries and can increase a seller’s conversions via content marketing. A blogger reviews the product or service, then writes a detailed review. This drives traffic back to the seller’s website.

Bloggers are awarded for their influence in spreading word about the product’s value, which helps to increase sales.

Microsites that are geared towards paid search.

Affiliate sales can be very lucrative if you create and monetize microsites. These sites can be advertised on a partner website or in the sponsored listings of a search engine. These sites are separate and distinct from the main organization site. Microsites offer more targeted, relevant content for a particular audience. This leads to higher conversions.

Email lists

Email marketing, despite its age, is still a viable source for affiliate marketing income. Affiliates may have an email list that they can use for selling the products. Others might use email newsletters with hyperlinks to products to earn a commission once the consumer buys the product.

Affiliates can also build their email list slowly over time. They then use their campaigns to collect email addresses in large numbers and send them emails about the products they promote.

Large media websites.

These sites are designed to generate huge amounts of traffic all the time. They also aim to build a large audience of millions.

These websites promote products to their large audience by using banners and contextual links. This gives the seller and affiliate a better exposure, and increases conversion rates.

The most popular site is Amazon Affiliate Program . This program boasts the largest market share among affiliate networks (46.15%).

The following are other big-name affiliate marketing programmes:

You can also contact retailers directly to see if they have an affiliate program. They may be willing to give you a coupon code or special discount code that you can share with your audience in order to drive traffic to their website.

Here are some tips to help you become a successful affiliate marketer

Are you ready to get started in affiliate marketing? These are our top tips for online marketing to help you get started.

Establish a relationship with your audience.

You will want to create a niche audience when you start your affiliate marketing career. This will allow you to target your niche with your affiliate marketing campaigns, increasing the chances of you converting. You’ll be able market to people who are more likely to purchase the product if you position yourself as an expert in a single area.

Personalize it.

There are many products that you can promote.

You will be able to choose the products you believe in or products from your favourite brands. Make sure your campaigns are focused on products that people love. Your conversion rates will be impressive, while your personal brand will remain reliable.

To work with influencers and bloggers, you’ll need to be proficient at email outreach. You can use tools like Voila Norbert or ContactOut to collect contact information of people and to send them personalized emails to get guest blogging opportunities and affiliate opportunities.

Review products and services.

You should focus on reviewing services and products that are relevant to your niche. Next, use the relationship you have built with your audience as well as your expertise to tell your readers why they should buy the product or service that you promote.

If there’s an affiliate program, almost anything online can be reviewed. You can review physical products, software, or services such as ride-sharing and resort bookings.

Comparing your product with others in the same category is especially useful. To increase conversions, ensure you create clear, concise content.

Use several sources.

Instead of just focusing on an email campaign, spend some time creating landing pages, reviewing sites, and reaching out to your audience via social media.

To find the best digital marketing strategy for your audience, test a range of strategies. This technique should be used frequently.

Carefully choose campaigns

You’ll make less money promoting a poor product, no matter how skilled your online marketing skills. Before you promote a product, take the time to research the market.

Before you sign up to a partnership, make sure that you thoroughly research the seller. You have a lot of time and you want it to be well spent.

Keep up-to-date with the latest trends

Affiliate marketing is a highly competitive industry. To remain competitive, you’ll need to keep up with any new trends.

You’ll also likely to be able benefit at least some of the constantly evolving marketing strategies.

To ensure that your conversion rates and revenue are as high as possible, make sure you keep up-to-date with all the new strategies.

Benefits of joining the BigCommerce Affiliate Program

Industry-leading commissions.

You will receive a 200% referral bonus and $1,500 for each Enterprise referral in the BigCommerce affiliate program. There is no cap on your commissions.

Additionally, the higher the commission tier, the greater the number of referrals that you drive through this program.

There are no minimum commitments or obligations to sign up for the program.

Strategic growth

BigCommerce offers unique strategies to increase website visibility, grow your site and drive more sales. Linking to WordPress blogs, webinars, and other quality content created by BigCommerce will help you save time and money.

Tracking that is powerful.

The affiliate dashboard gives you a complete overview of your clicks, sales, trials, and commissions. You can track your performance, view your earnings and get paid every month.

You will have a dedicated account manager.

An affiliate manager will be available to you, so that they can fully understand your business and help you achieve your goals. BigCommerce will collaborate with you and our conversion rate specialists to maximize your earnings per click and commissions.

Promotion made simple

You will be able to access our pre-made banners, text links and content from your dashboard. Simply insert our affiliate links onto your pages to promote BigCommerce on any page of your website.

How to join the BigCommerce Affiliate Program

If you are interested in starting an online business, migrating to an ecommerce platform, or just looking for ecommerce content, we encourage applying to the BigCommerce affiliate program. Your application will be carefully reviewed by our team.

Once you are approved, you’ll have access to support, tracking and reporting. You will also receive payments. BigCommerce is dedicated to the success and well-being of its affiliate partners.

The Last Word

Affiliate marketing via reviews and blogs, social media, software for webinars, and other platforms is an elegantly simple process. It’s a new frontier of marketing that just needs to be explored.

These tips will help you engage your audience, convert passive consumers into active customers, and increase your income one click at the time.

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