What’s Affiliate Marketing and How Does it Work? A Complete Guide!

One of the most common questions we get asked is: What’s affiliate marketing and how does it work?  Well, we are always ready to help people understand exactly that, and we are always ready to help people get started with affiliate marketing.  Affiliate marketing can help you realise your goals and dreams of working from home and earning money.

Affiliate Marketing is an awesome way of starting an online business with the opportunity to earn money from literally any interest or passion you may have, and we will go through all the different elements of affiliate marketing to ensure you go away with the necessary information you need to go and get started.

What is Affiliate Marketing – The Basics of Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing involves 3 parties.  There is you, the affiliate.  There is the affiliate program, which is the company or product owner and then there is the customer (the buyer).

As an affiliate, you sign up and join an affiliate program.  This is what gives you the ability to promote a product or service via a blog or website, or on social media.

When you join an affiliate program, they give you a special link which is unique to you.  This link is what you would use when promoting a product or service, it also allows the affiliate program owner to track it when a buyer uses it to come and buy something.

If a buyer does follow that special link and goes and makes a purchase, you earn a commission.  This is typically a flat rate or a percentage of the product price.

Here is a handy flow chart, to make it easier to digest:

How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?

Amazon has one of the easiest affiliate programs to join, when starting out.  Amazon is the world’s largest marketplace; they also have used affiliate marketing since it started out as a bookstore.  There are many benefits to both the affiliate and the company to use affiliate marketing.

Their affiliate program is called Amazon Associates.

They offer over 500 million products, just think about it for a second.  That is a lot of products, it also shows the opportunity available to affiliate marketers.  There is a niche for anyone to explore within Amazon alone.

Whatever your hobby, interest or subject that you can help other people with – Amazon will have a product to offer within that niche for you to promote.

If you can drive someone from your website, social media account or an email sent out to your mailing list with affiliate links included within them and they go and make a purchase, let’s say a laptop – You will earn around 6% commission on that one purchase.  So, if a laptop costs $500, you just earned $30.

Laptop - Affiliate Marketing

That might not sound like a lot of money but think about how many people are buying laptops every day on Amazon.

If you were able to sell 10 laptops a day through your blog, that is $300.

That is with just one product, what if you were promoting 10 different laptops and you were able to sell 10 of each?

$500 x 100 = $5,000 a day

This honestly shows the reality of affiliate marketing, with only one example.  Now you know the basics of the Affiliate Marketing process, let’s talk a little about what that means for you, the Affiliate.

Related Post: Why Do Companies Use Affiliate Marketing?

Who Can Become an Affiliate Marketer?

In general, it is normally free to join an affiliate program.  There are a couple of examples where they may charge a small fee.  But this is usually to check you are a real person, and it is very rare.

It is also a sign for you to look out for when checking an affiliate program, to protect yourself from a scam.

Affiliate Programs should be free, companies benefit massively from affiliate programs as they only need to pay out if someone makes a purchase.  They benefit because you are introducing to them a customer.

If you find an affiliate program is charging what seems like a high fee, it is either a scam or a low-quality affiliate program.  I would keep away from these types of affiliate program.

Affiliate Programs are great, they are usually free to join as an affiliate, you get to promote every brand, product or service that is available online and you get to earn commission from doing it too.

Amazon alone, give you the opportunity to promote over 500 million products and services.

But do not think Amazon is your only option, there are literally thousands of affiliate programs out there.  With the right research, you will find tons available in whatever niche you can think of.

How Do Affiliate Programs Work?

An affiliate program is some software that allows affiliates to promote merchants and earn a commission.  This software tracks all clicks, transactions and works out the commission all automatically.

It allows you to manage payment details, etc and gives you a personal dashboard that gives you some really important data to improve your conversion rates.

Affiliate Program stats are automated and always accurate.  Companies work hard on making sure their affiliate program information is up to date for both themselves and you (the affiliate).

They also provide you some awesome information around what links are working better than others, giving you the opportunity to work on the ones that are not working well, to improve your money-making opportunity.

Affiliate Programs also offer you promotional stuff too – banners, widgets and even plugins to help you leverage your offers on your websites and social media.

The better the affiliate program, the better the promotional gear.

What is an Affiliate Network?

There are tons of independent affiliate programs, but it is sometimes easier to just sign up with an affiliate network.

Awin, for example is the largest affiliate network in the world and by having one account you will gain access to over 6,000 different companies and their product lists to promote.

There are plenty of affiliate networks, all with 100,000’s of companies and brands within them.  Joining a couple of affiliate networks, could save you a lot of time and effort that could be better utilised elsewhere.

Managing a couple of accounts is much easier than managing 100’s of accounts, right?

Some of the most popular Affiliate Networks are:

How Does an Affiliate Get Paid?

That is the great thing about Affiliate Marketing, they do not make it hard for you to get paid.  They want everything to work seamlessly for both the benefit of you and them.

There are a few things to consider with payments though, they all have different payment systems and often have different pay schedules.

But for the most part, expect them to pay you in US Dollars regardless of where you live in the world.

There are a few where you could get paid in your own currency, but for the most part it will be US dollars.

You will also have the options of payment gateways, like PayPal that will convert it into your local currency.

Payment could be received via the following options, depending on the affiliate program:

  • Cheque Payment
  • PayPal
  • Bank Transfer
  • Payoneer
  • Cryptocurrency

If we go back to our example of Amazon, Amazon Associates offers the option of Amazon giftcards or bank transfer.  Or Wealthy Affiliate, with which I am a member, pays primarily through PayPal.  But they still offer the option of Cheque payments.  But if you are earning enough, you can also get bank transfer.

If Affiliate Programs made it difficult for people to get paid, affiliate marketers would not use them.  They would be shooting themselves in the foot if they did that!

Would you promote a brand if you were struggling to get paid from them?

What is the Opportunity for an Affiliate?

The opportunities for an affiliate marketer are endless… The number of people buying online is growing at a fantastic rate.

But when people are buying stuff online, it is so different to when they go to a store to make a purchase.

If you go into a store today looking at a product, you can see the product first-hand, you can feel it and check it out and even ask someone from the store questions around that product.

Online, people are resorting to checking out product reviews.

What did other buyers who bought it think? Is there an in-depth review of the product online?  That is the opportunity regardless of the niche you choose.

By helping people with all of their questions about products or services within your niche, you will find the affiliate opportunity goes hand in hand with helping people.

If you know a lot about digital cameras, you could share your knowledge, experience and how to get the best out of digital cameras.  Including some great product reviews of certain cameras for people just starting out.

That is your opportunity to earn commissions, not from selling to people.  But by helping them.

Think about what you need from a blog owner to help you make a purchase decision?

Do you need someone who sells to you the best product, or do you need someone who helps you come to an all-rounded decision?  If you knew you were going to buy it, then you would not necessarily go into researching the product too much.  You are searching online, because you are unsure on whether that is the best option and what to consider with that.

What you need is someone who can help answer all of your questions about it, and then you can come to your own decision around going and buying it.

People need trust in you as an authority in that niche, then they will buy from you.  No need to sell, help them and that is where the true affiliate marketer will earn good money.

If you just fill up your website with a load of affiliate links without the helpful guides and product reviews, etc.  You will find that your readers will switch off very easily.  No readers, no commissions.

Where Can You Go to Start an Affiliate Business?

Wealthy Affiliate - Get Started with Affiliate Marketing

You might have decided that you want to get started in Affiliate Marketing, but you have no idea where to go to get started… This can make it hard, as there are literally tons of programs and learning tools all claiming to be the best.

The biggest problems come in the form that not all of them are related to affiliate marketing or are complete scams (and utter garbage).

Where Can You Get Started with Your Research?

I want to offer my help with speeding up your research into getting started with affiliate marketing.  There is a training platform that is by far the best option for someone just starting out and it stands out massively against the rest.

I have been learning and using this platform for the last couple of years and would not be where I am today with their fantastic training and tools.  That platform is called Wealthy Affiliate.

Expert Affiliate Marketers hang out within Wealthy Affiliate, managing their respective business and helping out people, just like you who are wanting to start their very own Affiliate Marketing business.

It is the only platform you need, to learn everything there is to know about Affiliate Marketing.

It also provides a safe environment where you can get all the tools, websites, web hosting, training and coaching to create and grow your business within affiliate marketing.

There are two membership options, the completely free starter membership and an advanced premium membership (as low as $29 a month).  But I personally recommend you try the starter membership.  This will allow you to fully check out the platform before making any purchasing decisions.

Free WA Starter Membership

Within the first few lessons, you will have your own Affiliate coach (Me), you will have chosen your niche and have a clear direction for your business.  You will have your own affiliate website complete with web hosting and access to training that will start your journey to becoming an expert within the affiliate marketing world.

I am here at any time to answer your questions, whether it be about Affiliate Marketing or Wealthy Affiliate. All you need to do is ask!  I am here to help anyone start their journey and will happily share my knowledge and experience to help you at any time.

Write any questions below and I will reply to you as soon as I can

24 thoughts on “What’s Affiliate Marketing and How Does it Work? A Complete Guide!”

  1. I absolutely love what I read in this insightful article because it is full of great information. 

    This is fascinating and interesting to me. 

    Affiliates marketing has been working so good since when I joined Wealthy Affiliate

    I found so much interest in having my personal blog of my niche, I also earn as I’m learning. 

    Wealthy affiliate offers weekly training for its member and with live chat. Wealthy affiliate is second to none. 

    Thanks for this great review. Best regards 

    • Hiya,

      thanks for checking out our blog and writing a comment.  Affiliate Marketing is awesome, and gives people a freedom they can never achieve with a normal job.

      Wealthy Affiliate has helped so many people with their training, advice and support.

      Thanks again


  2. This is an exhaustive and helpful article on a great topic for every aspiring bloggers and affiliate marketers with the sense to pay for the requirements for success in their business. 

    Reading this article really reminds me of when I started my affiliate marketing business then, but I still get some helpful tips here. 

    I really appreciate this helpful post as it give the required insights for better starting. 

    Training and practice makes perfect. 

    As a testimony of Wealth Affiliate,  I will strongly recommend Wealthy affiliate for the best training. 

    Thanks for sharing this helpful information. Sharing is Caring. Keep it up man.

    • Hey,

      thanks for checking out our post and writing a great comment.  I also remember what it was like when I first started out, and that is why I want to help others avoid the common mistakes and get started on the right path.

      Thanks for the endorsement of WA, it is such a great platform for people just starting out


  3. Firstly I would like to commend you for this informative article. For me affliate marketing has always been one of the sure ways to make money online..I have been into affliate marketing for almost a year now and I can confidently say there has never been any regrets as to making the decision to start my own website. Your article is well detailed, good job

    • Hi Seyi,

      thanks for checking out our blog and writing some comments.  Thanks for the thoughts, Affiliate Marketing is a great option.  

      All the best to you, thanks


  4. Hi these

    This post is simply educating and informative. Affiliate marketing remains the best way to make living in the online business. I so much believe in it. The difficult and most complicating part of it choosing the niche. Choosing your passion doesn’t mean it is a guaranteed way of making money with. You need more and everyday research about it. Being an affiliate marketer gives you so much opportunity in learning so many new things. Quitting my 9-5 job and start affiliate marketing still remain one of my best decision in my lifetime 

    • HI Kehinde,

      thanks for checking out our blog and writing some comments.  I appreciate your point around picking a passion, it might not always work.  But in my experience, mostly it does because people can stay engaged with it.

      Some will only pick a niche they think is profitable and then find they don’t know what to write – no content, no sales.

      Either way, Affiliate Marketing is a great option!



  5. First of all, I must commend you for the diagrammatic image you used in explaining Affiliate Marketing. Its nice being an affiliate marketer as one registers free with no cost. 

    Though it may be quite hectic in trying to get traffic to ones website talk less of people clicking on the affiliate link and then buying the products. The fact that there are different payment methods makes it also interesting. 

    Though my personal preferred payment is through cryptocurrency. 

    Thanks so much for this educative post. Hope to read more of your subsequent posts. Cheers!

    • Hi,

      thanks for checking out our blog and writing some comments.  There are many benefits to being an affiliate marketer, and you are right the options of payout are expanding as other methods become available.



  6. Hi,

    From your calculations on your article What’s Affiliate Marketing and How Does it Work?, you had my mouth watering with interest. 

    Affiliate Marketing is the most convenient way to make money on earth! I know that sounds like an exaggeration but I have done enough research and even had first hand experience of the money making wonders of Affiliate Marketing. 

    • HIya,

      thanks for checking out our blog and writing some comments.  The opportunity for affiliate marketing is only bound by how much time and effort you are willing to put into it.

      If you can promote and sell one product, why can’t you do the same with a hundred or a thousand.  But if you want it to come to you on a silver plate – it will never work out.

      thanks again


  7. I would like to commend you for taking out time to write this article on What’s Affiliate Marketing and How it Works.

    Though I’m a beginner on the Wealthy Affiliate platform I am learning how to become an affiliate marketer. 

    And I am getting the best training so far… 

    But will like to ask, that getting a niche, is all about your area of interest and passion or can we also add your area of past experiences? 

    • Hey Barry,

      thanks for checking out our blog and for writing some comments.  You ask a great question!

      My advice around picking a niche is it needs to be something you know something about, are willing to learn more about and will still enjoy that niche in a year’s time.

      Writing content about a niche that you don’t really enjoy can become boring, that means you stop.  That leads to no chance of earning money.

      So your past experiences is fine, as long as you enjoy it and can still be in a place to enjoy it later on in your business plan.

      Hope that helps?


  8. This is a very legit way of earning income.It is a system you can build for yourself and keep making money right from the comfort of your home. 

    If u want a get-rich-quick-scheme or u want an instant gratification, then am sorry to inform you that its not for you. 

    Wealthy Affiliate requires patient, passion, dedication and commitment, then I can assure you your success is guaranteed.  

    • Hi Abiola,

      thanks for checking out our blog and for writing some comments.  It does take a lot of time and effort to reach success within Affiliate Marketing, but it is a lot of fun learning it all too.



  9. Hello John,

    I’m very impressed by reading your valuable article about Affiliate Marketing and Business. Indeed, many of my friends are now earning a lot of money by online business. Overall it is an independent profession. I think it is possible to earn well in the future by working hard at the beginning. And for this, Wealthy Affiliate is definitely one of the best platforms. Its activities seem very effective in creating an Internet entrepreneur as well. Thank you sincerely for writing a nice and informative article.


    • HI Rgpratap,

      thanks for checking out our blog and for writing some comments.  It is totally possible to earn good money online, as long as you stay dedicated to reaching your end goal.

      thanks again


  10. Hello John,

    Thank you for sharing such an informative article with all the necessary information about “What’s Affiliate Marketing and How Does it Work? A Complete Guide!”

    Really this is an amazing article.I like this article.I have joined Wealthy Affiliate.

    But I have a little concern about it.

    For this I was looking for a proper guideline.   After reading your article I have found the perfect guideline for me in this purpose.

    I have gained all the thorough details of this affiliate marketing.

    I will share this great article with my friends and relatives so that they can benefited from this. 

    • Hiya,

      thanks for checking out our blog and for writing some comments.

      WE are glad we have been able to clarify a few points for you.  



  11. Wow great post on affiliate marketing! This is a really straightforward explanation of affiliate marketing and nice use of graphics. Affiliate marketing is great because there are so many resources out there and everyone is using mobile devices these days, buying things online. I agree, affiliate marketing platforms should be free to use at first. This gives the interested person the opportunity to see if it’s right. Wealthy Affiliate is an excellent resource for those starting out, well done!

    • Hey,

      thanks for checking out our blog and for writing some comments.  Thanks for sharing your experience.  More and more people are going online and they are looking for help.  It presents us with an opportunity and Wealthy Affiliate offers some fantastic training to help us do just that.



  12. Hear a lot about this online marketing technique, and I have been trying my best to find out more about it because I own a small blog myself. 

    My main downfall with learning, so far, is the fact that I know nothing of the jargon that keeps on popping up – I need some sort of training that is aimed more at newcomers to the subject. This Wealthy Affiliate education that you mention – would it be suited to starters in the subject as opposed to more experienced?

    • Hey Chris,

      thanks for checking out our blog and for writing some comments.  If a training platform is bombarding you with jargon, it is not a great place to be as it can be very easy to get lost.

      But Wealthy Affiliate is nothing like that, it caters for all experience levels.  The Training you will start out with is especially written with the beginner in mind.  The live webinars each week are presented with beginners in mind too.

      If you have more questions as you progress, you can ask and you will get the answers.  But starting out the step-by-step training will lead anyone of any experience background exactly through what you need to do and when you need to do it.

      I felt very welcome when I started, considering I didn’t even have a clue what any of it was and now I am helping people because of the knowledge they helped me get.

      It is a great community to be a part of and I know you will get the help and support you need Chris!!

      All the best



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