All about affiliate marketing

What is Affiliate Marketing, Where to start and How to make money from it?

When I published an article at Bivori on how I make around $400 per month just on affiliate marketing, many readers were asking if I could provide even more details on the said industry. I got to admit, affiliate marketing is a very lucrative industry … if you have not known about it yet.

You have been warned. This tutorial is lengthy and thus, I would highly recommend you to bookmark this for future reference.

Affiliate marketing for beginners consist of:

  • Introduction to affiliate marketing
  • What should you know about affiliate marketing?
  • How do you get paid?
  • Top affiliate networks you should participate
  • Recommended affiliate marketing etiquette

Affiliate marketing for beginners – The what question

Affiliate marketing is a process where you get a small token of appreciation (usually in terms of cash) when you recommend others to purchase the product. Affiliate marketing is very popular among bloggers as the commission could varies from a mere 5% to as much as 70% (or more) per sale while some companies are offering fixed commissions. Either way, it is a very lucrative industry when it comes to the term make money online.

Personally, I consider affiliate marketers as virtual salesmen for the company and it is always a win-win situation for both sides. The supplier would be able to increase their sales with minimum (or zero) cost while the sellers are able to earn commission based on the number of sales.

Pretty good deal if you ask me.

Even before making your first dollar from affiliate marketing

The most crucial part about affiliate marketing is all about:

  • Selling the right products
  • Selling to the right audience

You may have the best product but if you have the wrong audience, no one is going to buy it from you.

1. So, how do you choose the right products to promote?

It all starts by deciding what niche you want to invest in. Choosing the right product will determine your success (or failure) in affiliate marketing.

For example, there is absolutely no reason why you should be promoting products related to child care on a technology niche blog.

While choosing the right niche is important, choosing the right products is also important too. There could possibly be hundreds of related products you can promote on a single niche topic. Therefore, you need to decide which would be the best product you should be promoting.

When it comes to affiliate sales, lesser choices are always better and this means that instead of promoting two products on one write up, try promote only one.

The reason is simple; The more choices you provide to your visitors, you are increasing the difficulties for them to decide. Your ultimate goal is to make sure that you make it simple for your visitors to decide and not making things harder and more complicated!

2. Getting it to the right audience

Finding the right audience group is important. Why? Imagine promoting an apple to a person who is looking for pears. You get the point.

I personally use three tools to help me decide what my audience is looking for on my blog.

  1. Google Webmaster Tool > Search queries
  2. Alexa > Top keywords from search engines
  3. Google Analytics > Queries

With the data extracted from the above tools, you would be able to determine which keywords that are attracting readers to your site and once that is done, head over to your favorite affiliate networks and search for the right product to promote.

How to get paid after an affiliate sales?

This is probably the most important thing for a blogger; getting paid. It is mandatory to have both of these if you want to grow in affiliate marketing:

  • PayPal
  • Payoneer

1. PayPal

The leading merchant when it comes to sending or accepting money. It works for all countries and it is possibly one of the best in its class. Click here to sign up for PayPal.

2. Payoneer

An alternative method to get paid when PayPal isn’t an option. It provides free account to all and you will automatically get a debit card as well. This is highly recommended by affiliate networks like ShareASale.

Sign up for Payoneer and get $25 debited into your account for free!

Help! Which affiliate networks should I join or participate?

Top affiliate programs
Puzzled over which affiliate network to join?

Affiliate networks are basically ‘warehouses’ containing hundreds if not thousands of products you can promote. Choosing the right program to join is important as it will determine your affiliate success.

A few rules which varies among these networks would be:

  1. Duration needed for you to receive a payout
  2. Cashout methods

To answer the above question, here are my top contributors when it comes to affiliate sales:

  • ShareASale
  • Commission Junction
  • DigiResults
  • ClickBank
  • Amazon

The below are the complete explanation for the various affiliate networks you can join and as well as the recommended affiliate programs to join.

1. ShareASale affiliate network

Fees: Free

Minimum cash out: $50

Payment method: Cheque, direct deposit and Payoneer

This company started up since 2000 and had ever been expanding until now. With more than 13 years experience in handling various affiliate programs, this is definitely one of the best affiliate network in the market right now. It is also home to some of the biggest names in business such as StudioPress, Thesis and WP Engine.

Sign up for a free ShareASale membership here – Join today!

Signing up for ShareASale is free and they would do a quality check on your site before approving your membership. Once that is done, you are free to apply for any of the 3,900+ affiliate programs they have. Lastly, grab the links and you are ready to grab some sales.

Top affiliate programs to join:

The minimum cashout for ShareASale is $50 and it is done automatically. You can choose to be paid either by cheque or bank transfer via Payoneer.

Also, ShareASale has several pay-per-click affiliate programs which is good for several blogging niche.

Commission Junction affiliate network

Fees: Free

Minimum cash out: $50

Payment method: Cheque, direct deposit and Payoneer

Commission Junction is owned by ValueClick and is also one of those top affiliate networks for bloggers. You can literally find many blogger tools in Commission Junction or CJ in short such as HootSuite and MaxCDN.

Recommended affiliate programs to join:

Cash out on Commission Junction is automatic and you can adjust your payment method by clicking the Account tab.

Join Commission Junction today and make money through affiliate sales!

DigiResults Internet Marketing Network

Fees: Free

Minimum cash out: Nil

Payment method: PayPal

DigiResults is another popular affiliate network and most of the items are related to Internet Marketing. Choices of items to promote are rather lesser at DigiResults when compared to ShareASale or Commission Junction due to its specific niche.

Top affiliate programs to participate:

Cashing out at DigiResults is done automatically and you will get your affiliate payment between 30 or 60 days as stated by the merchant. Payment are done directly to your PayPal account from the merchant instead of DigiResults. Try DigiResults today!

Note: I only use the above 3 affiliate programs as I had personal experience in them and 50% commission is huge.

ClickBank Affiliate Program

Fees: Free

Minimum cash out: Nil

Payment method: PayPal

This brand is already a household name when it comes to affiliate marketing. ClickBank is used by thousands of affiliate marketers daily and it is highly reputed. At the moment, they are over 10,000 digital vendors and 100,000 affiliates using ClickBank.

Top affiliate program to join:

ClickBank doesn’t only offer products you can promote but as well as tutorials and guides to make you a better affiliate marketer. Join ClickBank today!

Amazon Affiliate Program

Fees: Free

Minimum cash out: $10

Payment method: Varies

Among all the affiliate networks, Amazon is probably one of those who serve the shortest cookie period of 24 hours. Commissions are paid according to percentage and the number of items you sell. This means that the more you sell, the higher your commission which starts at 6%.

While these may seem bad, do not underestimate the power of Amazon. The brand itself is already well known to many and there is absolutely no reason why you should not use it.

There is no recommended products for Amazon as it has a huge inventory and all you need is to choose. Try Amazon Affiliate Program now!

4 Online marketing strategies that always work for me

Affiliate marketing for beginners
Just like in military, you need proper planning before you can succeed in affiliate marketing

There are many online marketing strategies which you can follow but for me, I only stick to one; sales funnel. My sales funnel is a 4 steps where I build a base for my readers to keep on reading. The chance of then exiting is really high and thus, each sentence should be phrased correctly.

Here are the 4 basic steps you need to create a sales funnel:

Step 1 [zero sales pitch] – What is the problem faced by your readers?

Step 2 [slight sales pitch] – Provide at least 3 solutions to the above problem with one solution is buying a product

Step 3 [moderate sales pitch] – Share a blog post on using the product to solve the problem (step to step guide or tutorial)

Step 4 [high sales pitch] – Review of the product you are promoting

I am not going to lie to you as the above is some seriously tedious jobs. However, it is extremely rewarding.

As you can see above, each step would have a different tone when it comes to sale pitch. Starting off with a high sales pitch could easily deter your readers. Therefore, the best way is to create the ambiance gradually. Furthermore, I don’t think there’s any one who is wiling to fork out money in less than 10 seconds.

Recommended affiliate marketing etiquette – What you should know?

While seeing your money grow just by selling affiliate products could be very tempting, it is always best to practice with etiquette. For example, you would need to decide:

  • Source of promoting affiliate products such as via email or blog post
  • Accepting paid reviews
  • Promoting products which personal experience or otherwise

There isn’t any cold and hard guidelines when it comes to affiliate marketing but you have to remember that it relates back to your brand and trust. Etiquette is really a thin line and it can be easily broken.

Lastly, the most important practice an affiliate marketer should have is the share the real and proper information of the said product. Just don’t promote just because of the commission. Instead, promote because you know that it will help your readers … one way or another.

Over to you

So, I hope you enjoy this blog post as much as I do when writing and tell me what you think using the comment form below.

33 thoughts on “What is Affiliate Marketing, Where to start and How to make money from it?”

  1. Great Article. Thanks for the detailed information and links to the various affiliate marketing services. I’ve used Amazon, but didn’t realize there were so many other sources. Thanks!

    1. Hi Amy,

      Thank you for commenting! Amazon is okay but not many products I can promote or sell using Amazon due to limited niche 🙂 So, got to find other alternatives.

      Glad you find this useful and appreciate it. Have a great week ahead!

  2. Awesome tips Reginald !
    If people follow such genuine and high quality tips ..they can surely reach great heights . Before visiting this site , i knew only click-bank, commission junction networks..i’ll try out the networks that i discovered through this article.

  3. Hi Reginald, This is more than a guide, it is a tutorial. Thanks for sharing all the basic details about affiliate marketing in this post. For everyone who wants to take advantage of affiliate marketing. I am pretty sure that this post is readily helpful.

    I have left the above comment in kingged.com – the content syndication and social bookmarking website for Internet marketers.

    Sunday – kingged.com contributor

    1. Hi Sunday,

      Thank you for commenting. Glad you liked it 🙂

      Well, I know many more people are doing well (better than me) and I certainly hope everyone can achieve that. At least, hoping this tutorial serves its purpose 😀

      Thank you!

  4. Hi Reginald,

    Great blog post, you really do need to have a plan in place. The problem is a lot of people just think they can start making money from day one.

    Whilst you may make a couple of bucks here and there it’s a long game. However using some of the tips you have outlined in your post and sticking to your guns the rewards are there.

    I wrote a post on how to build an Amazon affiliate cart using WordPress and WooCommerce, which may prove useful as a reference point. Not sure about posting the link though!

    1. Hi Ben,

      Thanks for commenting. Oh yes you are absolutely right! Even when I first started out, I assumed that was it. Place a code and wait for money to come in. Haha!

      Will check on your site and that guide might be useful for me 🙂

      Have a blessed week!

  5. Hey Reginald,

    This is a nice break down of what affiliate marketing is and how to promote it. I definitely give this post a thumbs up for ease of understanding.

    I really like the fact that you pointed out 4 affiliate networks to go to if your readers want to go that route. I knew about clickbank and amazon, but didn’t really know about the other two. I had a carousel of books from amazon some years ago, but read that they took out the affiliate program. over legal reasons. It must have been a rumor LOL… I will definitely look back into it again.

    I’m also always looking for ways to improve my sales funnel. My sales funnel is ok, but I can definitely take out some kinks. You gave me some great ideas!

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi Sherman,

      I know a truck load of bloggers who make more money than I do on other sites but for me, I do best with ShareASale and most of the products I use are having affiliate links there. So, pretty good and positive 🙂

      Sales funnel is always easier said than done. Though I have my own, I usually leave it more natural. This means that I would just let it be from time to time and even skipping certain parts if needed. Heh~

      Thank you back friend for visiting and talk to you real soon.

  6. I agree Reginald, very good breakdown of affiliate marketing and as bloggers the types of products that can be promoted.

    I tend to stick with products that I’ve used because I don’t want it to just be about the money but we both know that there are some awesome programs, services and products that our friends use that we would take their advice on and promote.

    For instance I know that Hootsuite is a great program because so many people use it even though I don’t. I just prefer doing a review on something I’ve used but it’s important to provide the products for the people who are looking for products like that.

    Great job and I’ll be sure to share this post as well.

    Enjoy your week.

    ~Adrienne

    1. Hi Adrienne,

      Thanks for that.

      Just like you, I tend to follow what I use and promote them. At least, sharing something I feel worth reading etc. Of course, the special exception goes to paid reviews.

      Have a blessed week and thanks for dropping by.

  7. Just able to read this post and I have learned a lot about affiliate marketing.

    The post tells us that the most crucial part about affiliate marketing is all about:

    ‘¢ Selling the right products
    ‘¢ Selling to the right audience

    And the best part is that when you gained money from doing it.

    Be sure that you choose the right products to produce and get the right audience.

    Another thing, the best part of being a blogger is being paid.

    Be sure you have Paypal or Payonner if you want to grow in affiliate marketing.

    Thanks for sharing this post. It helps a lot for all affiliate marketing.

    Just glad I have seen this post at Kingged.com.

    1. Hi Annalyn,

      Thanks for commenting. Glad you learned a thing or two from my blog post. Selling is always about luck and at times, you really need to pray hard to get the money rolling in. It happens always with the tight competition but it is certainly workable.

      Good luck!

  8. Hey Reginald!

    I like what you said about affiliate networks are nothing more than ‘warehouses’ or distribution outlets that carry thousands of products. In this case, digital products! There’s so many of them and yes, research may be required when picking one that best resonates with the person that is wanting to make money online.

    What an awesome break down! Very detailed and descriptive! Great tips Reginald!

    1. Hi Nate,

      Thanks for commenting. I always see bloggers asking me “which network I should join” or “where is the best …”.

      The truth is, there isn’t any such thing as best. Just put your eggs into several baskets and let it come by itself. That’s the least you can ever do right?

      Really appreciate your kind words! I still a newbie unlike you 😀

  9. Hi Reginald,

    As far as monetization, affiliate marketing is one I my favorites. The challenge of finding a product, promoting and product and collecting from it is very interesting to me. This was a really good breakdown of the affiliate marketing process.

    I like your four step approach! Seems easy enough to implement and we know the results are proven 🙂

    Thanks for this Reginald.

    1. Hi Steven,

      Thanks for commenting. Honestly speaking, the 4-steps is really crazy job. Real tough to get that done the right way and of course, the biggest challenge ever is to get the readers to click it.

      However, it is always fun to see the extra bucks on your account or when you receive an email prompt that you done a sale 🙂

      You are most welcome mate!

  10. Hi reginald, I have already signed up for few marketplaces given above. But yet didn’t earned a penny through. I think the following of Sales Funnel will help me to gain some bucks. If it takes some time, i will try them out as soon as the time allows,since time can change the affiliate sales. Thanks

    1. Hi Chamal,

      Affiliate marketing is a tough industry. You are not 100% going to make money and you must always understand what your readers are looking for. Supply them the info the need and you will grow your money (slowly).

      Good luck.

  11. Hello Reginald,

    You have done an excellent job explaining affiliate marketing. I see newcomers arrive online and try affiliate marketing without having their own website to monetize.. So they use the standard affiliate pages provided by the product vendor.

    It is much more difficult to achieve long term success if the website one is using belongs
    to someone else.

    The second biggest mistake I see is promoting too many products and spreading time, effort and resources too thinly across many promotions.

    Better to focus 100% on one product or service first and when that is making money, then add another one and so on.

    Of course, with your own website you can monetize it with affiliate links, but I agree with you that you need to be careful not to overwhelm the visitor.

    A good read, thanks!

    ~Jude

    1. Hi Jude,

      Welcome to my humble blog 🙂 Hope you enjoyed it.

      For me, I think many bloggers think that affiliate marketing is an easy thing to do. In fact, the market is so packed now that many (including me) have a hard time ‘breathing’. I totally agree with you about the focusing part.

      I started focusing on Genesis only and slowly move on from one to another. Make sure you have enough support (base) before even thinking of moving to another.

      Great comment and thank you for sharing!

      See you around.

  12. Hi Regi,

    I feel that you’ve written this post for me 🙂

    Yeah, am a kid in AM and even don’t know its essential details like where to start, how to select the product and all.

    But here, I learned all basic stuffs related to AM. As you told, I checked with the tools to know my audience. All are interested in making money online and gadgets like laptop n tablets.

    So i need to find a product related to these, right?

    I need to join in some Affiliate networks which you’ve listed here and will search the best suitable product as you told.

    Thanks for writing this AM post, hope it would help the newbies like me 🙂

    1. Hi Nirmala,

      Glad you find this useful! Now, make money online is pretty tough niche to crack but hey, it is possible. For tech items, it is easier as you can use Amazon or eBay to monetize.

      Yes, you are right. Just find a few products per topic and promote it. I usually promote softly which means I throw in a link or in a blog post. If I make it, then its good. If not, no problem.

      Hope this helps!

  13. Hi Reginald,

    Great guide for beginner. Affiliate marketing is great and works when you build trust within your audience. The best way to earn more is email marketing. Its works great.

    1. Hi Nikhil,

      Glad you find this useful. I have very less luck with email marketing to be honest. I guess my followers more informative than sales pitch 🙂

      Nonetheless, who knows right? 🙂

  14. Hi Reginald; Thanks for sharing such a wonderful post.
    You are right; the biggest advantage of selling affiliate
    products is that no party loses in it. If you can’t make even a single sale no problem
    because you need not to pay any fine or fee to someone and if you make it then
    commission is obviously yours.

    You need not to pay fee to be a registered marketer of any
    affiliate. So every blogger must try it and know if he could be affiliate
    marketer without training. If he does, it’s fine else he should get a training
    easily available online free or on payment of small fee.

    The foundation of your success to be affiliate marketer
    depends upon the two questions you mentioned in your post.

    1)
    What to sell?

    2)
    Who to sell?

    and the third one is

    3)
    Who to sell what?

    and even the fourth one is

    4)
    When to sell what and to whom.

    If you don’t know what your readers will buy you will never
    be able to sell them right product. Similarly if you don’t know what is the
    best affiliate product which your readers will happily buy you won’t be able to
    make it in any way.

    Your audience insight with email subscription service,
    social media insight widgets and with the help of comments of your readers on
    your blog and on social media about your blog will largely help you what
    benefits your readers want for free and for what type of benefits they will
    even pay you. So just pick the products or services that can give their desired
    benefits to them and then sell them with various selling and marketing tools
    including text ads, pre-selling, product reviews and banner ads.

    Getting paid for affiliate sales is a big issue for bloggers
    of countries where PayPal does not have operations. Pakistan is one of them. So
    here one need to have Payoneer account and in some cases have to be partner
    with another blogger in a country where PayPal is operative just to keep
    receiving his commission without much ado.

    I think it depends upon niche as well to select the best
    Affiliates. You mentioned the top affiliates that really have their own
    credibility apart from having huge stock to offer on various ranges of
    commission.

    Thanks again for writing such a great tutorial to make one
    learn the art of affiliate marketing without paying a dime.

    1. Muba,

      Man, you really write a damn long comment! Extremely informative mate.

      Personally, I always ask myself:
      1. What do my readers want?
      2. What makes them buy it?
      3. What makes them buy from me?

      Answer these and you’ll be earning pretty darn a lot if done correctly.

      Thank you for commenting mate. Really appreciate it and keep it up!

  15. Thank you.
    Affiliate marketing is a type of performance-based marketing in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought by the affiliate’s own marketing efforts

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