What Is Affiliate Marketing About?

what is affiliate marketing about

When I first became interested in ways I could potentially start generating an income online, I saw the term “affiliate marketing” thrown about a lot and – at first – I had absolutely no clue what it meant!

So, let’s discuss Affiliate marketing basics.

What Is Affiliate Marketing About?

Affiliate marketing is just one of the many ways you can make money online.

Put simply, affiliate marketing is when you drive traffic, (people from your website) to another website – and if someone buys something once they’re there, you get receive a commission.

So, the seller is the company or individual that has the product they want to sell and really, this could be anything at all.

From physical products, to digital products and the commission rates vary dramatically depending on the product or company you’re using.

The affiliate is the middle man.  The middle man drives traffic to where the seller is.

There then may be some time scale within which the buyer needs to buy something in order for the affiliate to make a commission.

For example, Amazon only has a 24 hour window – so, if the customer doesn’t buy something during that time and comes back 48 hours later and buys it, the affiliate will get nothing.

(That being said – Amazon does very well at converting visitors into buyers!!)

On the other hand, other companies may have a 7 day or even 30 day windows.

So, as long as the buyer doesn’t then use someone else’s affiliate link and comes back in that designated time, you have a longer time to make a sale.

You can also make sales irrelevant to the ones you’re promoting with certain companies.

For example, if you’re promoting a book on amazon and then the buyer goes to amazon and buys a flat screen tv… you get the commission for the TV too!

You connect the buyer to the seller by using certain links that you will get access to once you’ve joined an affiliate program.

These are links you can either add into the content of your text, or within a banner that you place within your posts or in your sidebar.

There are an unlimited number of companies you can become an affiliate for.  From some of the big names like Amazon and Ebay, to small independent companies.

There are also companies that focus specifically on digital products, such as clickbank, where you can get some really high commissions, (imagine 75% plus commissions on some items, which are a far cry from Amazon commissions that start from 4% ).

Affiliate Networks

There are also many companies that house many affiliate programsthese are called affiliate networks.

Think of it a bit like a shopping centre for affiliate programs – you search for the company or product you’re looking to promote, then you apply to them to become an affiliate.

The companies can affiliate programalso search for affiliates and invite you to join their programs.

The affiliate network will also get their cut too of course and so the percentage of your commission can be very low – but this is just a price you have to pay to get accepted on some of these programs and many companies only work through affiliate networks.

However, you can see clearly what percentage your commission will be when you search for companies to promote and you can make your decisions as to whether it will be worth it for you or not.

Once you’ve applied, the respective company will consider your application and will either accept you or reject you depending on their own terms and whether they think your website is a relevant fit for them.

Some examples of affiliate networks are:

What I would say is, look at the sort of companies that have the products you want to promote and then check what affiliate network they are aligned to.

Try and stick to a couple of affiliate networks at first, or else it can get pretty confusing trying to keep track!

Make sure you keep a log of all the companies and affiliate networks you have applied to join.

The benefit with companies like Amazon, is they’re incredibly well known and trusted.

So, conversions may be easier than to sites that are less well known or deemed less trustworthy!

You can also apply to Amazon direct and without the need to apply to an affiliate network, (Ebay is the same in this sense).

Amazon is also pretty easy to get accepted on, in my experience and so, very user friendly for an affiliate newbie.

Take note – some companies will have stronger policies than others.

So, if you apply to a company and your site or blog is incomplete, has broken links or has content totally irrelevant to their product, (e.g. your site is about shoes and you’re wanting to promote flat screen tv’s) then you’re more likely to get rejected.

While, some other sites, really don’t care about the content of your site or how relevant it is to them.

I’ve had offers from companies wanting me to promote mobile phones and insurance on a site about arts and crafts, for example!!

Some companies simply want their ads up, where ever they can.

If you don’t want to irritate your audience, I suggest you don’t stick up irrelevant ads.  Keep your ads suitable to your website or blog and they will convert much better.

So, if you already have a website or blog and are looking to start making money from it, affiliate marketing is a very simple way to get started.

 I would suggest simply signing up with Amazon at first and go from there.

While Amazon has thousands up on thousands of products, it may still be that Amazon still doesn’t have suitable products for your niche or topic of your site.

If you’re not sure if Amazon is the right fit, leave me a comment below and I’ll advise you.

Pros And Cons Of Affiliate Marketing


  • Newbie friendly.  If you sign up to the Amazon affiliate program, they have a guide explaining exactly how you add your links and banners to your website, so it’s fairly straight forward to get started.
  • No physical selling involved – someone else deals with all the packaging, posting and cash transactions, you just pick up the money at the end.
  • Free to join – you do not need to invest any money to get started and so can effectively start to make money for free.
  • You can work from anywhere, so if you’re planning on travelling or moving abroad, there is a possibility for you to generate an income from anywhere in the world.
  • A huge choice of products to promote – your choice is really limitless, there are literally countless companies that have affiliate programs now.  Whatever you can think of, there is likely to be an affiliate program available for it somewhere.
  • Once you’ve built up your website, you may have hundreds of pages promoting hundreds of products within your website and you could be earning commission from people clicking through those links day and night – with very little maintenance on your part.


  • Competition can be fierce.  If you just have a little blog or website that isn’t generating much traffic, your chances of generating a decent income from affiliate marketing is….zero.  You’ll be up against people who have an advanced knowledge of SEO techniques, (Search Engine Optimization) and know how to drive traffic to their sites and rank highly in the search engine.

If you’re not ranked highly in the search engine, (or alternatively, don’t have a huge social media following and generate traffic that way) you will not generate enough traffic organically to make decent money with affiliate marketing.

There is the option of paid advertising to boost your traffic… but when you’re starting out, you’ll ideally want to be organically creating traffic first!

  • If your website or blog is not generating enough traffic when you begin this journey in affiliate marketing, it will take some time before you start making money and you will need to learn how generate traffic to your site.

This will be frustrating at first, but plenty of affiliate networks also have forums where you can talk to people about issues you’re having, share tips, or just chat with people in the same boat!

  • Affiliate marketing is not a get-rich-quick option by any means, but nothing is.  If you put the work in, there is money to be made.

If you don’t have a website and want to start learning about affiliate marketing and how to profit from it – join me at this great online community!

They have a free 10 part course for starter members and two free websites, with hosting, which is also included.

They teach you everything you need to know in order to start generating a profit from affiliate marketing, creating a website dedicated to any topic or interest you like.

Do you think you get the affiliate marketing basics now?  Are you thinking of giving it a go?   Leave me a comment below and I will get back to you!

Good luck getting started and let me know how it goes…

All the best… 😉

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About the author


Nat is the creator Ragstoniches.com.  Read more about Nat here...

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  • What a great description of what Affiliate Marketing is all about. I use all the networks you mentioned. I just don’t use them enough as I’m stuck writing content and reviews and not spending enough time promoting products and services.
    Anyone reading this will find it very valuable and help with their online education.
    Thanks for this, really well done!

    • Hi Peter, many thanks for your comments! It can get quite confusing when you sign up to a bunch of affiliate networks and then have to keep track. I’m pleased you find the article useful. It can be greatly time consuming initially building up your site first, but it’s great to look back and see all the hard work you’ve achieved. Many thanks! Natalie

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