Affiliate marketing is when you promote other companies’ products. When someone buys through your affiliate link, you get a commission.

As an affiliate, you’re a salesperson for the company. You help to make a sale, the company rewards you.

The best thing about affiliate marketing is that you can do it at scale. A typical salesperson only sells products from one company. As an affiliate marketer, you can promote products from many different companies and earn commissions from all of them.

How does affiliate marketing work?

The merchant gives each affiliate a unique link so they can track who was responsible for a sale. The link will usually look something

When someone clicks that link, a small file called a cookie gets stored on their device.

An affiliate cookie does two things:

  1. It helps the merchant attribute the sale back to the right person;
  2. It (usually) holds an expiration date, so you get paid even if the buyer delays their purchase.

Here’s an example of how this works.

Imagine that a reader visits your post about the best winter jackets. They click on one of your affiliate links, leading them to a product on Amazon.

But they realized they have to pick up their daughter from school. So they leave their house, pick up their daughter, have dinner, and then finally go back to Amazon where they find the product again.

Since they’re already shopping on Amazon, they decide to purchase some ski gear too.

Here’s the good news. Earlier, they clicked on your affiliate link and a cookie was stored on their device. Because Amazon has a 24-hour cookie duration, you get compensated for both the winter jacket and ski gear—even though you didn’t promote the latter.

How much money can I make as an affiliate marketer?

The simple answer is that there is no limit. It depends on your niche and the amount of work you put in.

The most successful affiliate marketers make six or seven figures a month.

For example, Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income made over $100,000 in affiliate commissions in December 2017.

Keep in mind though that these people have done an excellent job building their brand. It’s taken them years of hard work to reach this level.

If you’re just starting out, your checks might look more like this for a while:

You need to manage your expectations. You won’t earn the big bucks right off the bat, but don’t let this discourage you.

The success of others tells you that with hard work, time, and the right knowledge, you too can potentially reach those levels.

How to get started with affiliate marketing

Follow these seven simple steps.

  1. Decide on a platform
  2. Choose your niche
  3. Find affiliate programs to join
  4. Create great content
  5. Drive traffic to your affiliate site
  6. Get clicks on your affiliate links
  7. Convert clicks to sales

Decide on a platform

Theoretically, you can do affiliate marketing on any platform. Even Instagram works.

However, it’s much easier to build an audience and increase your affiliate sales via one of two channels: a blog or YouTube channel.

Starting a blog today is relatively easy and cheap. There are plenty of tutorials online that teach you how to get started. The best part? It’ll likely only cost you a few dollars per month.

Choose your niche

Let’s be honest: if you’re starting a blog today, you’re facing a ton of competition. Statista estimates that the number of bloggers in the U.S will reach 31.7 million by 2020.

To stand the best chance of success, niche down.

Choose a topic that focuses on a specific category. For example, the topic of “food” is an enormous category. Rather than tackling that, try something more specific, like grilling food.

Keeping your topics tight can help you build a more focused audience and potentially help you rank higher in search engines.

Find affiliate programs to join

There are three types of affiliate programs to choose from.

A. High-paying, low-volume affiliate programs

Low-paying, high-volume affiliate programs

High-paying, high-volume affiliate programs

Create great content

If you want your affiliate site to succeed, you need to create high-quality content where your affiliate links fit naturally.

Here’s an example. Tim Ferriss interviewed 100+ famous people and asked them this question:

What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months (or in recent memory)?

He published the answers in a blog post and included affiliate links to the products mentioned:

Judging by the comments, his fans loved it.

This is what you have to emulate when creating content for your affiliate site.

Don’t just blindly curate products from Amazon’s best sellers. Go the extra mile to make sure your content solves the visitor’s problem.

How? If you’re doing reviews, actually purchase the product and test it. This is what the Wirecutter did, which explains their success.

If you don’t have money to buy every single product, you can always start with what you have at home. For example, if you had a tech blog, you could create reviews on the gadgets you own.

Drive traffic to your affiliate site

You’ve created great content. The next step is to get more people to read it, so they will click on your affiliate links.

Get clicks on your affiliate links

Just because you have an amazing piece of content doesn’t mean people will click on your affiliate links.

Convert clicks to sales

In affiliate marketing, two conversions need to take place for you to make money.

The first conversion is the click to the product page.

You’re 100% in control of this action. Use the tactics above to improve your chances of getting that click.

Also Read: PPC vs PPM