What is Affiliate Marketing for Dummies? Road to Passive Income

If you are looking for a guide that will explain affiliate marketing for dummies, you have come to the right place.  We try our best to keep things simple and ensure you go away fully understanding a subject and also go aware with a clear path on how you can get started, if you so wish.

Affiliate Marketing is an awesome way of earning money online.  But I often find that people try to overcomplicate the process and that is when we start to feel lost, when really it is really quite a simple premise.  Let’s make sure you fully understand how Affiliate Marketing works?

How Does Affiliate Marketing Really Work?

There are 3 parties that are involved in affiliate marketing.  The first party is you as an affiliate marketer.  The second party is the seller of the product or service.  The third party is the buyer of that product.

Let us use an example to break this down.  Let’s say an affiliate marketer has a blog that is focused on a niche which is in the realms of fitness, let’s say losing belly fat.  We will get into the need for a niche later.

So, this affiliate marketer has a blog that focuses on helping people lose belly fat.  They have a ton of hints and tips, they also promote products or services that are relevant to that niche.  It might be a kitchen gadget that makes preparing a particular recipe easier. That is where the affiliate bit comes in.  The affiliate marketer links their blog post about that gadget to a marketplace such as Amazon through an affiliate link.

The readers of that blog read that particular blog post and decide they want that gadget as it makes preparing that particular (health shake) recipe easier to do and so they follow that link to Amazon and buy the product.

The blog owner has just earned a commission through affiliate marketing.

How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?

That is the simple premise behind affiliate marketing.  You promote products and services and receive a reward or commission for introducing a buyer.

It is a method that benefits both the buyer and the seller as it reduces the costs of marketing which can be an expensive business and Amazon actually launched in this way.  When Amazon first launched it was a small online book store and rather than spending money on advertising, they reached out to their buyers to promote their books to others with the reward of a percentage of the sale price.

Now Amazon is the biggest marketplace in the world and still follow that same model but cover a whole lot more than just books.

Related Post: How to Make Money with the Amazon Associates Program

How Do They Track Your Sales?

This is the point where people can overcomplicate affiliate marketing.  You see it involves tracking cookies and if you do not know what a cookie is, this is where it can seem like it is an alien language.

Let’s describe how a cookie works, and then we can explain how they track your sales.

A computer cookie is a small file sent from a web page to your computer to be stored in your web browser. The main purpose of this file is to help the web page keep track of your visits and activity.  That doesn’t always mean a bad thing.  Think about if you do your online shopping online, a cookie will help keep track of the items in your shopping basket.  Without cookies, this couldn’t happen.

If you stay logged on your social media, cookies also help keep you logged in.

So, how does that work with affiliate marketing.  Well, when you sign up with an affiliate network or Amazon, you are given a special link that you use when you are promoting these products and services.

When that reader read that article and decided to buy that kitchen gadget we were discussing earlier.  The blog post would have had a link that went straight to the sales page on Amazon.  That link would have had a signature in it that identified that it was you who introduced this buyer to Amazon.

You might be asking how cookies came into this.  That buyer might not buy that product you recommended but explored Amazon a bit and bought a similar one.  The cookies would have meant you still get the commission for the sale.  Amazon offers 90-day links, so if they go through your link.  Have a look at the product and decide they will look later, as long as they do actually buy it you can get the sale.

Let’s Explain A Niche

So, affiliate marketing works by you introducing someone to a product or service and receiving a commission for doing so, Choosing a Niche - Affiliate Marketingbut you will notice earlier I mentioned that you would need a niche.

Whilst the premise of Affiliate Marketing is really that simple, it isn’t enough to just sign up with Amazon and creating a blog website and promoting a load of products…

If you start too broad, you will find it much harder to get started and find any success.  You need to target a specific niche, that is very focused and will give you the better edge to get started with Affiliate Marketing.

What Is a Niche?

A niche is a narrow segment of the market with which to target.  What the hell does that actually mean??

The best way to pick a niche and actually understand what a niche market is by going onto Amazon.  Picking a category and then see what the sub-categories were and click on one, then keeping doing that until you cannot go any further.  That is how narrow you need to go to start a niche.

If I picked Men’s Grooming, there are six sub-categories:

  • Shaving
  • Skin Care
  • Body Care
  • Hair Care
  • Dental Care
  • Kits & Gift Sets

But those are still too broad for a niche.  Let’s pick Shaving and then this brings to the following sub-categories:

  • o Manual Shavers
  • o Electric Shavers
  • o Groomers & Trimmers
  • o Pre-Treatments
  • o Aftershaves
  • o Accessories

In that category, those would be my starting points.  But honestly, we could go narrow if we wanted to and you could target disposable shavers for example.

When thinking about your niche, you want to target something you already have an interest in and then target as narrow a niche as you can.  You will expand later on into the broader market, but the first stage of your business will be getting your name out there.  That is why we need to target a niche.

Always start with a tiny segment of the market to improve your chances of getting it working right and then you can start getting broader as you have built up your authority.

Become an Authority in Your Niche

Become an Authority or Expert

This is an important one to making Affiliate Marketing work for you.  Think about it, would you buy something if you didn’t trust the seller, the promoter, the marketplace??

The first stages of an affiliate marketing business are showcasing yourself as an authority or expert in your chosen Niche.

Why am I going to trust you and follow your suggestions… that is because you are trustworthy and know your stuff.

That is the place you want to get yourself to after choosing your Niche.

That is also why we suggest you pick a niche that you actually know a lot about or are willing to learn a lot about and it is much easier if you like the niche too.

Imagine if I started a blog on women’s fashion… Yeah, I struggle with men’s fashion let alone making people believe I know anything about women’s fashion.

Let’s Confirm your Understanding

You start off by selecting a niche, a tiny segment of the market.  It is based on an interest or passion you already have with that topic and can show some knowledge about it to others.  You are willing to learn more about that topic and will start on your journey to becoming an authority (expert) in that niche to help people who want to understand that niche too.

You don’t need to be an expert writer, as the art of affiliate marketing through a blog is that it is a conversational type article.  If you can explain it to one of your friends, then you can definitely succeed within affiliate marketing.

What Next…?

People get put off the idea of affiliate marketing when they learn they need to learn how to create a website or startyour Next Step towards an affiliate marketing business blogging or anything technical as they are not that great on the laptop or computer.  This is where I can come in and help.

Before I started my first blog, I didn’t have a clue on how to do anything like create a website.  I didn’t even know what Affiliate Marketing was.  But I was looking for a way to earn money from home.

I stumbled onto the topic of Affiliate Marketing and had a number of the worries that you may be thinking right now…

But I found something that made it simple and easy to understand, I could learn everything I needed.

All I needed to put in was TIME & EFFORT.

It doesn’t matter what your skill level is with a computer or that you are not that great at writing or social media.  Because I got expert help and support from day one.

If you are willing to put in the time and effort, like I did and spend time learning and following the steps that are involved, you will shortly have the following:

Your Own Affiliate Marketing Website

What I am offering is a training platform that can help anyone of any skill level create their own affiliate marketing business that will earn them money online.  You will gain access to a community of like-minded entrepreneurs that will be on hand to help you at any step to ensure you understand what to do and how to do it.  You will also gain access to my help and support at any time.

The only thing that will stop you succeeding at Affiliate Marketing is you telling yourself you cannot do it.

I know plenty of affiliate marketers who are earning full-time wages from their businesses and some of them didn’t know how to go on Facebook before they started.

What Am I Offering?

I am offering you access to a training platform that has transformed the lives of thousands of wannabe Affiliate Marketers.  It offers World Class Training, Access to Websites & Expert Help and Support and what is more you get to join for FREE.

A Starter Membership is absolutely free, with no catch.  It allows you to fully explore the platform and start your affiliate marketing business.

Think about it, by the end of lesson 4 you could have your own affiliate marketing website in your chosen niche.  It will be fully optimised to be found by the search engines and all you would need to add from that point is content.

Everything involved with an Affiliate Marketing business can be taught and learned and Wealthy Affiliate will be there to help you at every step of the way.

3 years ago, I didn’t even know what Affiliate Marketing was and now I am sharing my knowledge to help others find genuine opportunities within Affiliate Marketing.

If you want to start your own affiliate marketing business with expert help and support, then I highly recommend you sign up for free below.  Just click on the banner below and start your own affiliate marketing business for free.

If you still have any questions or want to learn a little more before committing anything, I totally understand.  But I ask that rather than worrying about it ask me any questions in the comments below and I will definitely respond to you with an answer.

Good Luck with Your Journey within Affiliate Marketing, whichever direction you decide to go.

46 thoughts on “What is Affiliate Marketing for Dummies? Road to Passive Income”

  1. I wanted to know and learn about affiliate marketing and I am so glad that I found this article. This article had everything I needed to know about affiliate marketing.

    I learned what is affiliate marketing, how it work, what is a niche and a lot more about affiliate marketing,

    This article just made my start up for affiliate marketing easier. Thank you so much for sharing this article.

    • Hey Sujandar,

      I am glad that you found the article useful.  Good luck with your future endeavours.  If you ever need any help, you know where to find me.



  2. WOW your page is what a lot of beginners need. It’s straight to the point and it tell it how it is. A lot of people find marketing very hard and don’t really see the value in doing so. Is there a place that you can get the training to learn? What would you recommend?

    • Hey Claudia,

      thanks for checking out my guide.  My recommendation is Wealthy Affiliate, their training is designed so that anyone can understand it and take action from it to become whatever they want to become with regards an online business.

      I have researched many over the last couple of years and have found none that come near to WA when it comes to value.  

      hope that helps


  3. Hi John. Great in-depth article on affiliate marketing. Many people cringe when they hear the term–partly because they don’t understand what it means and partly because it sounds like selling. When really it boils down to providing quality information to people looking for it! The beauty of Wealthy Affiliate is that you can create your online business part-time or full-time and Amazon is a great way to start making commissions. You provided a great outline to anyone curious about creating their own online income. Thanks for the great information. Alanna

    • Hey Alanna,

      thanks for checking out my guide.  It does seem to be a term that puts people off because they assume they have to be great sales people.  But you are right, it is about helping people that is where the real affiliate marketers bear fruit.

      Wealthy Affiliate is an awesome supportive platform that can help anyone succeed.  

      thanks again


  4. I like how you explained the concept of narrowing a niche.  Too many people don’t realize that a too-broad niche will give them a website that is buried way deep in the search rankings.  Someone mentioned an interesting idea when looking for niche keywords.  He said that you can find lucrative “back doors”.  For example, electric razors.  There are still probably a lot of review sites with fairly high authority that would bury a new site.  So maybe target electric razor repair.  Embed some youtube videos, offer links to some replacement parts, etc.  The suggest it might be time for an upgrade to a new, far better model. Of course, you would have a set of recommendations for new electric razors.  This isn’t a perfect explanation, but I hope you get the picture.

    • Hiya,

      thanks for adding value to the post.  I totally agree with you, there are always opportunities and your electric shaver repair niche is just that a niche.  With the right training and keyword research, you will find plenty of opportunities out there.  You don’t have to end up with just one.

      thanks again


  5. I must say that 2 years ago I was thinking about how affiliate marketing is some big science and that it would not be possible to make online business with this but I was very wrong. I can freely say that affiliate marketing is the most popular way to earn online and more and more people are doing that or they think to start with. 

    Your explanation is honest and I could not find anything that could be not a truth. I encourage all people that after reading this topic, they give a chance to affiliate marketing and they will not regret.

    • Hey Daniel,

      thanks for checking out my guide.  It did seem the same to me when i first came onto the idea.  It seems so alien to what i had thought earning money online was.  But it works and there are many WA members who prove that it works.

      As long as you put in the time and effort, you will see it for yourselves.

      thanks Daniel


  6. Hey John, 

    That’s a pretty good explanation of affiliate marketing. I was doing some research to write a similar article on my blog and I will absolutely link back to you.

    One question though… 

    I thought that the Amazon cookie was a 24-hour one and not a 90-day one. Am I wrong?

    BTW, this Wealthy Affiliate seems kind of cool, so I’ll definitely give it a go.

    Looking forward to your reply,


    • Hey Xaric,

      thanks for checking out my guide.  To clarify, the 90-day bit is if it has been saved into the basket.  You are right, the normal cookie is 24-hour.  I will go back and clarify it in the post.  



  7. Thanks for explaining affiliate marketing in a down to earth step by step form for beginners  I truly loved the way you broke down the explanation I could understand every bit of it from the definition to the end and happens to be that I am already a wealthy affiliate premium member, Thanks for making it easy for all beginners out there.

    • Hey Seun,

      thanks for checking out my guide and confirming what I had hoped that it was understandable.  Nothing needs to be overcomplicated and this is often when people spend money when they don’t need to – because they do not understand it.

      thanks again


  8. I’m so glad I came across this post! I’ve been researching affiliate marketing quite a bit lately, and have started building my own website. After reading your article I just realised my niche is waaaay too broad! I totally agree that affiliate marketing takes a lot of time and effort, as well as persistence. I’ve been working on my website relentlessly and have wanted to quit many times. What do you do if you ever get overwhelmed by the whole thing (if you do, that is)? I’m at that point now where I’ve come pretty far and am proud of it, but am also aware of how much MORE work I have to invest in it. I guess I’m just wondering if I’ll ever get a bigger audience. Which social platform did you find most success on?

    Love, light & cuddles

    Rei xx

    • Hey Rei,

      thanks for checking out my guide.  When you become an authority you will expand into that niche that you say is too broad, so you might keep the niche broad but with your content focus on specific segments until you get to the point where you are broader – when you have the traffic and audience too. 

      Stick with it, you will see the traffic coming in if you are doing effective keyword research and creating engaging content.  WE always think it will come sooner than it does, but keep going and you will start to see the outcomes of all your hard work.

      There are times when i feel it isn’t going to happen, but then i remember why I am doing this.  To give me more time with my family.  Keep reminding yourself of why you are doing this and setting yourself daily and weekly goals helps too.

      Rather than thinking, I haven’t got an audience yet.  Think have I achieved my weekly goals, if not I need to work harder.  Seriously, if you get your mindset into that.  You will soon realise “Wow, I have traffic and this is working”.

      And, no matter how much you put in, there will always be more that you can do.

      Social Media is a funny business, to be honest I am seeing most success with Instagram.  It is definitely pulling people to my blog.  Most marketers are suggesting Instagram is the one to focus on this year and that Instagram Stories is something to use.

      Hope that helps, and I am sure you will get there.  All the best


  9. This Article Pretty much explains everything under the sun in Affiliate Marketing..And the Fundamental of how one should start,, 

    I think anyone that reads this should be able to jump right into affiliate Marketing right away with the foundation Knowledge and start seeing success.. 

    I am Currently in the affiliate Marketing niche Myself And I have alway tried to explain affiliate Marketing like this in plain english where anyone can understand but for some reason its a bit hard for me…

    Keep up the good work… 

    • Hey Micheal,

      thanks for checking out my guide.  Keeping it simple is the perfect way of helping people grasp a concept.  If you are finding your explanations hard the best advice I can give you is to write it as though you were telling it a friend or family member.

      You can always test it on a friend or family member in the beginning.  Did they grasp it? If they did you know your audience will.  I will also say that when writing an article you are writing it for one person.  You may have thousands of visitors, but it needs to feel personal to each and every one of them.  They need to feel like you are talking to them and not a generic group of people.

      Hope that helps


  10. Finding affiliate marketing has been a lifesaver for me and when I began I knew nothing about website construction! Before jumping in the ring of AM I haven’t touched a computer in 6 years and found myself lost. Luckily I found the exact same program you are speaking of and now I have 2 sites up and running. 

    For the price point being asked I found this to be a very valuable program.I am still not an expert but with this platform I am very comfortable in building websites for the purposes of marketing! Great post and keep up the good work!


    • Hey Shannon,

      thanks for checking out my guide and offering your experiences.  Wow, 6 years without touching a computer – a long time.  But it just shows what we are on about.  Anyone willing to learn can prosper with Affiliate Marketing.

      I am glad you are achieving your goals.  Good Luck to your future.


  11. This is a great nuts & bolts breakdown.  

    I’ve always been a big fan of searching for “for dummies” type articles.  When I need something explained in a language I can understand I need to hear from people that understand my struggle ha!

    To your other readers out there I would say…don’t fear becoming an “authority” in your niche!  I say that because I made that mistake and it was a huge setback.  Now, I know what I’m capable of and I’m seeing it through.  I just had to believe in myself as much as others believed in me.

    Thank you John for the great summary for beginners.  It’s people like you that help dreams become a reality!

    • Hey Fyre,

      thanks for checking out my guide.  I appreciate your comments.  An authority site could put people off, I know.  But it is much easier to achieve than people think.

      As soon as you are willing to learn everything there is to know in a niche, you have started the journey to becoming an authority.  

      thanks again


  12. Thanks for bringing this important piece to us. Its a brief review on totality of affiliate marketing. I’m new in my affiliate entrepreneur journey. I’m happy that wealthy affiliate is a good place to start. I have already started my training and have chosen my niche which I think I can do well with. The live support is a huge encouragement. This is the beginning of 2019 and I think its better one chose a profitable way. 

    Thanks for this beautiful piece. 

    • Hey,

      thanks for checking out my guide.  Glad you found it useful.  I wish you luck with your affiliate marketing business.  Wealthy Affiliate will definitely help you achieve it if you follow the training and advice.