What is Affiliate Marketing and How Does it Work

My recent post about make money recruiting affiliates was eagerly read by people and resulted in few signups. But by looking at the comments and the email it is fair to say that many are not aware of what affiliate marketing is and how you can make money from it. Even bloggers who are already making money from there blogs using Adsense are reluctant to try affiliate marketing in there blogs for various reasons. So in this post I will talk about some of the most commonly asked questions about affiliate marketing like what it is, how do you get paid, how to find the right affiliate service and also how to maximize your revenue from affiliate marketing.

What is Affiliate Marketing ?

In very simple terms affiliate marketing is you selling a product or service belonging to someone else and getting paid a commission for it. If you think of doing this online the basic steps would involve the following

  • You sign up as an affiliate with a product
  • The owner of the product gives you affiliate links and banners with your special code in it
  • You add those banners and links in your blog
  • Readers comes to your blog, see the affiliate links and visit the product site
  • You get a commission if the reader buys the product

So if you are a high traffic website then you have a very good chance of making money from affiliate marketing.

Affiliate Marketing

What is Affiliate Marketing

How to Become an Affiliate

Now that you know what affiliate marketing is the next step is to become an affiliate. Joining an affiliate service and becoming an affiliate is easy, the hard part is finding the right product to promote as an affiliate. If you are blogging about birthstone jewelry then there is no point in promoting coffee makers. You need to find a product that is closely related with your blog and something your visitors would want to buy. If you are blogging about Twitter then you could sell a Twitter management software. Once you identify what kind of products you are going to sell as an affiliate simple do a Google search for that and you will find plenty of services that you can join as an affiliate.

Note – I have noticed that many struggle to select the right product to promote in there blog. If you are not sure about what to promote feel free to contact me for advice. Don’t worry it wont cost you anything :-) .

Choosing an Affiliate Program

Even if you identify a product there can be several affiliate programs for the same product. So below are few things you should consider when choosing a program

  • Good Product – This is the most important thing in affiliate marketing. Your readers already trust you, so you shouldn’t break that trust by promoting a poor product. Preferably you should have tried the product you are promoting.
  • Commission Level – Although the service that pays the highest commission might not be the best option, you have to maximize your returns. Check which service is giving you the best payout.
  • Payment Plan and Method – When it comes to payment there are few things to consider. Do they have minimum payment level and can you achieve that ? Do they pay on a monthly basis ? are few things regarding the payment plan. Payment method is also important, if you live in a country like Sri Lanka where PayPal is send only, they you need to have other ways like checks to receive payments.
  • Tracking and Reporting – If they don’t provide good tools to track your traffic and sales then you don’t have a good way to judge your success with them, so providing these tools is a must.
  • Banners and Promotional Material – If they don’t provide enough banners you might end up creating your own banners, which could be cumbersome if your not good at designing things.
  • Two Tier payments for recruiting affiliates – If they pay your for recruiting affiliate then its a nice way to earn some passive income.

Commonly Asked Questions about Affiliate Marketing

Below are some of the commonly asked question by reader of this blog. If you have a specific question you can ask in the comments section or contact me directly.

  • Lets say someone visits a product website through my affiliate link. But he or she didn’t buy the product that day. If they come back later without directly without using my affiliate link will I get paid ?
    This depends on the cookie duration of that website. When someone visits there website through your link they place a small text file called a cookie with your affiliate information, in the visitors computer. As long as the cookie is active you will get paid. Generally a cookie will expire only after 30 days and some cookies don’t expire for one year. So even if they come back before on year you will still get paid. However users have the ability to clear there cookies and if that is the case then you wont get paid.
  • Is Amazon affiliate program always better for affiliates who promote physical products, even though there commission levels are lower ?
    Although Amazon commission level starts from 4%, it increase as you sell more products. So if you are selling lots of products then you commission level can reach as high as 15%. Another advantage of Amazon is that people already know about Amazon and trust them. So it is far easier to sell something via Amazon rather than an unknown website. You have to track your earnings and traffic and choose the service that suits you best.
  • Why do I have to get approved to be an affiliate with some services ?
    You have to understand that some services take there affiliate very seriously. They assign an affiliate manager for you and give you tracking tools etc. All these are additional costs for them so some affiliate services have an approval process.
  • What are good affiliate programs that I can join easily ?
    As I said there are plenty of programs, so you need to find a related affiliate program. For a general program that promotes all kinds of products Amazon affiliates is a good place to start. Commission Junction also has lots of products for you to promote.

If you have any more questions about affiliate marketing feel free to ask them in the comments section, or clarify them by contacting me. If you enjoyed this article and learned something from it please help me spread the word by sharing it in social networks.



  1. says

    Hi Nishadha,

    Great post and you’ve covered this topic well.

    I know that some people get confused about how this process really works and even from Sandipan’s comment, it has helped a lot.

    I actually don’t have anything to add since you covered it all. Great job Nishadha, this will help so many people understand exactly what affiliate marketing is.


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