What Is Affiliate Marketing About and How to Start?

start affiliate marketing

In this article I will first explain what exactly is Affiliate Marketing and how you can safely start to make money with it.

Where to find the best products or services to promote.

Then I will show you different several programs that can save you time and money with your projects.

So let’s begin, shall we?

Affiliate Marketing, What is it and How to Start?

Basically, Affiliate Marketing involves promoting the products or services of a company (which can be called the “vendor” or the “merchant”). Anyone who promotes (the “affiliate”) an affiliate’s products or services is paid for each sale that he or she originates.

So the goal of the affiliates is to send as many potential customers as possible to the vendor’s sites.

In general, affiliates are paid in two different ways:

  • Either the affiliates are paid based on their sales; in the form of a fixed commission or a percentage of the price for each product / service sold,
  • Or they are paid for each Internet user sent who completes a specific form (creation of a member account, subscription to a newsletter, etc.) on an advertiser’s site.

The size of commissions depends on several criteria: the advertiser, the price of products / services, supply and demand, etc.

So the amount of a commission can be very low (but not necessarily uninteresting as we will see further down). Or very attractive.

To promote the products or services of an advertising site, the affiliate uses text links or banner ads. Each internet user who clicks on these links or banners can potentially earn a commission to the affiliate who set them up.

Developing an Audience …

Developing an audience
Develop an audience!

To earn money through Affiliate Marketing, you have to find a way to get an audience.

You have to get visibility in one way or another. Because you have to find potential customers for the merchant.

To develop an audience we can consider several possibilities:

  • Create and develop a blog, or other content site.
  • Share videos on a YouTube channel.
  • Try to gain visibility on social networks.
  • Collect email addresses for email marketing.

All these solutions can be used at the same time and become very complementary. But be careful not to disperse yourself too much anyway.

Once you have gained visibility you must ask yourself this question:

What kind of product / service would interest / help my audience?

Or vice versa, sometimes we may ask ourselves this question: “What type of audience do I need to acquire in order to sell this product / service?“.

Then just present to your audience the products / services you want to recommend, regularly.

3 Ways to Find Products / Services to Sell in Affiliation:


At the very beginning, when you don’t have a website, you have no visibility on social networks, no mailing list … It is not easy to find affiliate partners. So we can start by simply looking at the sponsorship systems that we find on very many sites that have something to sell.

Currently, there is for example sponsorship for online banks which is very successful:

Just to give you an example, CIT Bank …

CIT Bank offers a great affiliate marketing commission

By making a Google search for “online banks affiliate program” you will find dozens of them.

The first advantage of sponsorship programs is that they are found everywhere in almost all areas or niches. And the second advantage is that the referral programs are accessible to everyone. And you are not always required to have a website or blog for example.

Sponsorship and affiliation are based on the same principle. This means promoting a site and being paid based on performance. This is great to start with, although some referral programs pay in the form of discounts or gifts.

Affiliate Platforms

Then I recommend that you take an interest in affiliate platforms. These sites are intermediaries between affiliates and vendors. Some affiliate platforms specialize in very specific topics, such as weight loss for example. But the most famous affiliate platforms generally offer campaigns in almost all areas.

However, to register on an affiliate platform, you must generally present your communication tools (websites, social networks, etc.). So these sites are not necessarily accessible to everyone. You must already have visibility on the internet to be able to register. Hence the interest, at the beginning, in the sponsorship programs I mentioned above.

There are several advantages for registering on affiliate platforms. You will already have access to a good number of affiliate programs. Then, you won’t need to invoice each affiliate one by one, nor will you need to be in contact with each advertiser, the platform takes care of all that.

In general, the only person who comes into contact with you on these affiliate platforms is your affiliate program owner. You just have to focus on promoting campaigns. Cool isn’t it?

Direct Affiliate Programs

Finally, some merchant sites offer their affiliate program directly, without going through an affiliate platform. This is the case, for example, of the famous Amazon site, which offers its own partner program. And that offers up to 10% commission by recommending products for sale on Amazon.

Amazon best sellers
Amazon Best Sellers in Camera & Photo

So the advantage of direct affiliate programs is that there is no middleman. So it can be more interesting at the commission level.

Some merchant sites also offer affiliate partnerships by directly contacting potential affiliates. Rather than offering a visible program directly online as is the case for Amazon.

The big drawbacks with the Amazon Affiliate program are:

  • Their rate of commission is very low, and …
  • The cookie life is very short.

To get all the details on that I recommend that you have a read at a review I have recently written on the Amazon Affiliate program.

Now, if you are interested in an affiliate program that pays really good commissions and will teach you exactly how to go about it, I highly recommend that you have a look at …

How To Make Money With Affiliate Marketing

And here below we are going to see exactly what you need to look for when deciding to join an affiliate program. You will need these …

4 Requirements to Start in Affiliate Marketing

Now I’m going to tell you a little bit more about the 4 requirements needed to start and earn money in Affiliate Marketing. Relax, it is not as difficult as you may think or as you were told it is, okay?

1 – You Need to Create a Content Site

This is currently the method I use the most to earn money with affiliation. I create blogs, or directories, or even sites that combine both. The best thing is to start with a simple blog promoting affiliate programs.

But creating a profitable blog requires a considerable investment of time. Contrary to what some dream sellers claim, you do not create a profitable blog by working only 1 hour per week (at least not at the beginning). But if you are prepared to put in the effort it requires, there is BIG money to be made.

Creating a blog that earns money with affiliate programs … is a topic where there is a lot to say. I can’t explain everything in this article otherwise it would become very long and I will move away from the main subject.

So if you want to start a profitable blog don’t hesitate to have a look at my #1 recommendation. Also,read some of my other articles, and feel free to educate yourself on the internet by reading blog articles, or by reading some books that are available on Amazon.

A Few Tips for Optimizing Your Blog Revenue …

Before moving on to the following requirements, I will still give you some tips to better optimize the income of your blog in affiliate marketing:

Start monetizing your blog as quickly as possible

I see a lot of bloggers waiting to get traffic to start monetizing their blog. Personally, I think that it is a mistake. Logically, the first waves of blog visitors are due to the first articles that were published on it … partly thanks to natural referencing.

start sharing your affiliate marketing link
Let it be known!

And these primary sources of visitors are potentially the primary sources of income if you drop a few links on them. In addition, many bloggers end up giving up, for lack of results.

And I think they wouldn’t give up if they earned just a few bucks every now and then. Even a small result can be enough to give some highly needed motivation.

Certainly, at the start of a blog you cannot have access to certain partnerships. A freshly created blog, therefore without traffic, does not interest many vendors. But if our niche allows it, we can try to monetize these articles from the start via the sponsorship programs as I explained above.

And we can also go through affiliate platforms which are not very demanding once we have published 4 or 5 articles and installed a beautiful design.

Give good visibility to affiliate links

It’s no wonder you don’t make money with affiliate if you have 30 blog posts and only 2 of them have an affiliate link. You should try to sow affiliate links everywhere on your blog, as long as it remains consistent with the content.

We can also create and highlight certain pages whose primary objective is to start to generate money with affiliate marketing. This is what I do on all my sites, and it works very well.

You could also have a page dedicated to the various affiliate programs that you are promoting. I do that as well and some other blogs. However, unlike blog articles which can be created for many different reasons such as feeding the machine, attracting traffic, attracting inbound links, gaining “weight” for the blog, etc., the affiliate links which are there often find a less attractive conversion rate.

To gain regular readers for some of my blogs I also use an exit popup, like this one. I prefer using an exit popup as opposed to the regular popup which I find rather annoying.

The exit popup will only show when the reader is about to leave. It reminds him or her to signup for a freebie. In my case my free Internet Marketing course which, by the way you can have by clicking on the banner below …

Join my free Internet marketing training

I also make use of the HelloBar site on some of my blogs. Currently I only use it to promote affiliate links (with the agreement of the affiliate vendors because they do not always agree), which allows me to significantly increase my earnings. But, as we will see later in this article, it can also be interesting to use this kind of popup to grow a mailing list.

Do not neglect the design of your blog

I see a lot of bloggers who consider the design of their blog as something secondary. It’s a mistake there too. For me the design of a blog is almost as important as its content.

I know because I have had the opportunity to experience it.

Some time ago I made an experiment and built two main blogs on the same subject, with the same type of content (they even went so far as to compete in Google). One had a very ugly design and a not very refined presentation and only delivered approximately 300 to 350 visitors per day. The other was a newer blog, with a better looking design, but it only had 100 to 150 visitors a day. These two blogs therefore offered the same content.

The first one with more traffic was refused by a good number of vendors. But these same merchants generally accepted the second one which nevertheless had 2 to 4 times less traffic than, and similar content.

The only element that played in favor of second website was its design which made it a little more “professional”.

So since then I’ve been trying to devote more time to designing my sites because obviously it can make a difference, and not just for the vendors, but also for the Internet users.

2 – Create a YouTube Channel

Building a YouTube audience is also a great way to start to make money with affiliate marketing. Personally, I do not have many videos on YouTube, but I know video is the best converting content format, when done right.

Here is one of my videos on YouTube …

To promote affiliate links on YouTube you can add them directly in the video, as well as in the description.

I am not a very active user of this platform to generate income so I am not a complete expert on the subject. However, I have written an article sometime ago based on what I have learned during my research. It is worth having a look if you are interested in learning how to earn money with YouTube videos.

But I believe that developing a YouTube channel is a bit like developing a blog in the end. Indeed we must try to create quality content regularly, rely on natural referencing to get views, try to retain the traffic that we get (by encouraging them to subscribe to the channel or join us on social networks), etc.

If you are interested in making money on YouTube, this book will be a good start for your new affiliate marketing project.

It is available on Amazon: “Make Money On YouTube” by James Ericson.

I have not read it myself, but I have read a couple of his other most valuable work and I have not been disappointed so I think this one too should be filled with good advice.

So, enjoy it and let us know what you think about it in the comments’ section at the bottom of this tutorial.

3 – Social Networks

To earn money with affiliation I occasionally use social media. I mainly use the most popular social platforms like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, to name just a few. In general I get more results with Twitter, except maybe for a few themes.

The downside of Facebook or Twitter is that on these social media posts have a very short “lifespan”. Only a few hours on average. Unlike videos on YouTube and articles on blogs that can draw traffic for weeks, months or even years.

It is for this reason that to earn money with affiliate marketing I will tend to recommend to first creating a blog which is not something that difficult if you follow the right training like the one I highly recommend here: Wealthy Affiliate University.

Then, to use social media as a source of additional traffic and as a way to stay in touch with part of the audience.

But a simple message on Twitter can also go viral and be seen by tens, hundreds, or even thousands of people. And if it contains a relevant affiliate link it can make money quickly and easily.

If you have read some of my other articles on this blog you might have noticed that I make use of a very useful little widget, called “Better Click to Tweet”, which you can see below.

How it works? …

Very simple, all you have to do is to log on to your Twitter account (if you don’t have one yet and want to make money as an affiliate marketer, you better get one now!) and click on the bar right below and it will share this article with your Twitter followers …

What Is Affiliate Marketing About and How to Start? reTweet Please ? #affiliatemarketing #blogging Click To Tweet

And if you have several Twitter accounts, I would be most grateful if you would repeat the operation after login into each one of them in turn. Thanks for doing that 🙂

Another benefit. When you have a Facebook or Twitter page with a lot of subscribers you can also make money by sharing sponsored posts.

Develop the number of subscribers and engagement

To try to make money with a Facebook page, for example, you obviously have to have subscribers. But the main difficulty is to make sure to develop the engagement rate of your subscribers. Engagement is the number of likes, comments, shares, clicks … on posts.

And it’s all these criteria that can make a publication go viral.

There is no point in having a Facebook page with thousands of subscribers if 99% of them are not interested in what you are sharing with them. In addition, when the engagement rate is good (likes, comments, etc.), a publication is seen by a larger number of people.

The second important criterion is the theme. A Facebook page on a humorous subject will be easy to publicize, but will be more difficult to monetize than a Facebook page on a more serious subject. And this also applies to blogging, the development of a YouTube channel, etc.

Share affiliate links on Facebook and Twitter

It is not always easy to share affiliate links on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Especially since criticism on social media is easy towards advertising. Again, this question must be asked:

What product / service would interest / help my audience?

share on social media
<~~ Sharing is caring!

Try to promote relevant products and services. And don’t overdo it, trying to promote an affiliate link to each post is not a good solution. You have to vary the publications.

On Facebook pages, there is an option to write articles, like on a blog. You can therefore write an article with good formatting, illustrations, external links … You can even mention other Facebook pages to try to get additional shares. The advantage is that on Facebook you do not need to worry about SEO. So you can afford to write short articles of 400 to 1000 words.

An article can promote an affiliate link in a more relevant way, by integrating it with content. We can thus transform advertising into information. Posting videos can also go a long way in promoting affiliate links.

A little tip: In addition to promoting products or services as an affiliate, you could also promote job offers through sites like OpinionInn, MyPerfectCV, Recruiter.com, etc.

Depending on the theme of course. In this type of affiliation the commissions can go up to $1,000, so it can be more than interesting.

Earn affiliate money … on Instagram?

So far I have only been talking about Twitter and Facebook. But there are other interesting networks, like Instagram for example. If you have an Instagram account with a lot of subscribers you can earn money with affiliate accounts.

The problem is that you can’t put a link in the description of the photos you post on Instagram. So the solution to do some affiliate marketing is to put an affiliate link in the description of profile profile. And clearly indicate in the description of the photos the location of the link.

For example if you wear a T-Shirt on a photo that you are promoting as an affiliate, then in the description you can say: “If you want to get the same t-shirt as me, click on the link in my bio”.

The downside is that every time you want to recommend another product / service, you have to change your profile picture, comment and affiliate link.

Again, affiliation is not the only way to earn money. For example, you can advertise yourself, your own services, like I do on Fiverr …

buy quality traffic for your website

4 – Email Marketing

Finally, to earn money promoting affiliate programs, you might also be interested in email marketing. The goal is to develop a list of subscribers (a “mailing list”), using a blog, a YouTube channel and other social networks.

For example, you can use the well known application MailChimp to create, manage, and send emails to your subscribers’ list. This autoresponder is free up to a certain number of subscribers so ideal to start your affiliate marketing business. But unfortunately, once you have reached this volume you will have to upgrade, and it is not cheap.

I have used MailChimp before and I had a lot of problems with it. There are reports that some accounts were shut down for no reason (it happened to me as well). I tried also many other “reputable” autoresponders, but none suited me 100%.

The problem is that when you change autoresponder, you have to transfer your list over and the new autoresponder sends an automatic email to your subscribers to ask them if they agree to it. That is when you are bound to lose a lot of subscribers …

and I mean A LOT!

So, it is important that you make sure that you select the right autopresponder in the first place so that you will not have to change later.

The one I am presently using, and since many years, is TrafficWave, it has a fix rate no matter how many subscribers you have or how many emails you send out. You also have a 30 day free trial period. Plus, personally I find it much easier to work with.

In general, to encourage Internet users to subscribe to their list of subscribers, bloggers and YouTubers offer something in return. Often they offer private content (such as a guide in PDF format for example), which internet users automatically receive by email when they register.

I offer a free Internet Marketing course and personal one-on-one mentoring sessions. To get it all you have to do is to click on the banner below …

Join my free Internet marketing training

If you have a blog you can also boost your number of subscribers by displaying a registration form in a small popup (or other highlighting formats) with HelloBar which I am using myself on several of my websites.

Once you have your autoresponder set up and you have some subscribers, you can then regularly send an email to them to make them return to your blog (and other blogs and websites). You can always give more them more information, maintain a contact, create engagement, etc. And of course you can also use this mailing list to promote affiliate links consistent with the theme.

Automate the sending of emails

A good strategy is to prepare in advance a series of emails that will be automatically sent to your subscribers. This saves some precious time. You can for example prepare a series of ten information emails, containing tips, advice, tips, etc.

You can then schedule the sending of your emails using your autoresponder. For example, you send the first email as soon as a new subscriber registers, then the second 3 days later, then the third on day 5, etc.

And then, in some of the emails you can integrate one or more affiliate links to products or services that may interest / help your subscribers.

On the other hand, this requires an investment of $17.95 after the 30 day free trial, if you choose TrafficWave, but also, the are offering an affiliate program so that at the very least, your autoresponder will cost you nothing, and for ever!

None of the other autoresponders out there can offer such a great deal. Not MailChimp, not Aweber, not even GetResponse.

Start Your Affiliate Marketing Now!

This is where this article ends. I hope it helped you come up with some ideas to start making money with affiliate marketing.

I could not detail the many more opportunities to make money as much as I wanted to in this article. Otherwise it would have been much longer. But if you click on the tab “Recent Posts” at the top of the page you will discover a long list of articles and tutorials in a variety of topics, such as blogging, social media marketing, emailing, YouTube, and many more and in more details.

So, Will This Article Help You Start Your Affiliate Marketing Business?

I hope that you enjoyed reading this guide and that it will motivate you to start your own affiliate marketing business and make money with it.

John presenting how to improve your seo

If you are looking for an honest way to make a living online, and to start for free, just like I have been doing for years, I recommend that you first learn more about Affiliate Marketing, it will cost you nothing. 

You can even start at your own pace if you don’t have much time to spare. All you have to do is join my FREE Internet Marketing Training by clicking on the banner below …

Join my FREE Internet Marketing class
Sharing is caring ...


  • Benny

    Hi, it is a great and nice feeling to know that someone will create a great website like this and also create a write up on an article like this. I have always had a mindset for early retirement and I started my online business some months ago. This is a really helpful article for me

    • John

      Thanks for your comment Benny. I am glad that you are finding this tutorial useful and I am quite sure that it will help you start your affiliate marketing projects the right way.

      Let me know if you have any questions or need any help for anything, okay?


  • Ann

    Hi John! I have started my own blog and the results I expected have begun to tarry! LOL. So I’ve also been considering the idea of opening a YouTube channel to drive traffic to my blog or even to place my affiliate links directly on YouTube. I was excited when you also recommend opening a YouTube channel. I went over and checked yours. You have definitely encouraged me to open mine. Thanks!

    • John

      I’m glad that my tutorial encouraged you to start your own YouTube channel Ann. Sounds a bit scary at the beginning but you will see how easy it gets with practice. It is like when you started your first blog, remember?

      Let me know if you have any questions or need any help, okay?

      Wishing you all the success you deserve with your online projects.


  • Thanks for sharing this vital information with us all because your write up is very clear and understandable. I love the way your website loads, it loads pretty fast.

    • Thanks very much for taking the time to read my latest tutorial and I am glad that you enjoyed it Okuse. I wish you the very best for your online projects.


  • Danijel

    Hello John, I must say that this article is very helpful and informative. Affiliate marketing is definitely one of the best ways to make money online. It is great I stumbled upon your article because you explained everything so well, I plan to start doing affiliate marketing and now you greatly made my path easier.

    • John

      Thanks very much for reading my tutorial and for taking the time to share your views Danijel. I am glad that you decided to start your affiliate marketing business. Please stay in touch and let me know if you have any questions or need any help along the way, okay?

      Wishing you the very best,


  • Jerry

    Hello John,

    Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to comment on this article. I must agree with you on your “Developing An Audience” section about creating Blogs and Content, Creating and sharing videos on a YouTube Channel and the utilization of social networks. I really haven’t dealt with the E-mail usage as much myself, but I will take your word for it being a traffic driver.

    You really have created an outstanding article here, it really looks great! This article is a very informative way for anyone who want to start on the road to become an Affiliate Marketing business owner.

    If you don’t mind me asking, How do you get your website to load as fast as it does?

    Thank you again for allowing me the opportunity to comment on this article.

    Blessing To You My Friend,


    • John

      Thanks so much for reading this tutorial and for taking the time to comment on it Jerry. I must admit it is quite a complete article. A lot of research went into it and I have added my over 20 years of experience in affiliate marketing into it.

      I am glad that you are mentioning how fast my website downloads, a few readers have also reported it. To achieve this requires a few disciplines that are taught in my free Internet Marketing course that is offered at the bottom of every articles, so you are welcome to subscribe to it Jerry. 

      Wishing you the very best for you online projects,


  • Twack Romero

    Hi John, first can I thank you for such a thorough, yet easy to read article. I’ve added it to my ‘bookmarks bar’ because there was so much valuable information, I really want to keep coming back to it in a structured way. I have a tendency to go off on tangents and I’m trying hard not to do that, these days.

    I have one site that I can start to use for affiliate marketing, actually it’s quite random, so I could use it for many different types of products or commission based items. One thing that really appealed to me from the start, was the sponsorship deals. I’ll be honest, it was the monetary aspect that swayed me. I certainly need to look at something, even though the site is relatively new, as you say, why wait to monetise.

    Your advice on the autoresponders has been taken on board. I haven’t installed one yet, it would seem that I might need to build up a list of some proportions first. From your insight, I am going to carefully consider the options before making that commitment. 

    • John

      Thanks very much for sharing your experience, and lack of, in affiliate marketing Twack, you are already to a good start. I am glad that this tutorial will prove to be useful to you in time.

      As for getting yourself an autoresponder, same as for monetizing your website: “why wait?“. The sooner you have it set up, the sooner you can automate this section of your tasks. 

      Let me know if you have any questions or need any help with your autoresponder, okay?

      I wish you the very best with your online projects and I look forward to seeing you on this blog for my next article which I can assure you will be very informative.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *