What is Affiliate Marketing (And How To Get Started)

If you have ever wanted to make money online but didn’t know how to get started, affiliate marketing is a great place to begin.

Affiliate marketing is the easiest and most affordable (not free) way to enter the internet marketing world and make money.

Although affiliate marketing has become more competitive, there are still great opportunities to make some passive income.

Dispelling the myth

A lot of people have made a lot of money by doing affiliate marketing but it didn’t happen overnight.

The key to success is being consistent, persistent, and building traffic to your blog. Many people give up too early and never reach their potential because the rewards didn’t come quick enough.

Don’t enter affiliate marketing with a get-rich-quick mindset or you will be disappointed.

Work hard, smart and learn as much as you can and you will succeed.

So, what is affiliate marketing?

There are two types of affiliate marketing:

  1. Sell your own product or service and have others promote it and get a percentage.
  2. Sell or promote someone else’s product or service and get a commission.

Affiliate marketing is a process where you partner with a merchant and receive compensation for selling and promoting their products on your blog.

It is essentially commission based selling without the face-to-face interaction you would have with a brick and mortar store and you don’t need to develop your own product or service.

There are three basic ways you can earn money with affiliate marketing:

  • Cost Per Sale or Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)
    A visitor to your blog is referred by you to and purchases products or services from the merchant.
  • Cost Per Lead (CPL)
    A visitor to your blog is referred by you ty and fills out a form on the Merchants website.
  • Cost Per Click (CPC)
    A visitor to your blog clicks on a merchant’s banner and is directed to the merchant’s website.

Now that I have your juices flowing, let’s get started on a path of success to making money online.

How do you get started with affiliate marketing?

You will hear on occasion that you really don’t need a website to start affiliate marketing but I am not convinced. If you want to get into affiliate marketing and you don’t have a blog, I highly recommend you get started with one today.

So, let’s assume for the purpose of this article that you already have your own blog. Your blog will be your home base by which you direct all other traffic (social media, email) and where you will place your affiliate links.

On your blog, you write about your interests that are focused on a niche hobby or industry. By providing links to related products and services that you have carefully chosen from the affiliate networks, you will earn a commission on anything your visitors buy.

You want to choose products and services that relate to your blog topic and fit well with what your blogging voice. Work hard to become an authority in the niche and gain your readers trust so when you recommend a product, they take you seriously and are more apt to take action.

Sign up for the appropriate affiliate network

There are several different affiliate-marketing networks (listed below) that allow you to sell products and services on your blog.

Many merchants choose to go through these affiliate networks to partner with their affiliates. Some merchants choose to run their own affiliate network and it may be necessary to sign up with them individually.

Most affiliate networks make it easy to join and approval is quick. When choosing what network is right for you, take into account what you want to promote i.e. products or services.

Three of the most popular affiliate networks


ShareASale is a great place for bloggers and WordPress developers to find products that fit their niche. From the Genesis Framework to premium themes and plugins, there is a product or service for just about any niche.

Sign up for a ShareASale affiliate account and start earning today!

Commission Junction

CJ is a massive collection of merchants that include some of the biggest names in online products and services.

Sign up for a Commission Junction account.

Amazon Associates

One of the biggest online retailers in the world (I haven’t checked the numbers lately so it may be the biggest) with a seemingly infinite array of products. Most bloggers start with Amazon because they have probably used the site at some point.

Note: As of 1-1-2015, Amazon does not allow affiliates from the following states:
Arkansas, Colorado, Maine, Missouri, and Rhode Island.

Reason: politics and taxes. If you want to read more about the law click here.

If you are not within one of the banned states, sign up for an Amazon Associate account.


LinkShare is now Rakuten Affiliate Network but I still call it LinkShare. They’re the home to some of the biggest retailers such as Macy’s, Walmart, Best buy, Sportscraft, and Viator.


Great place to earn money from digital information products (digital content creators).


Although there are a lot of ways to monetize your blog, affiliate marketing is still a reliable approach when done correctly. As with any means of making money online, it is all about building traffic and providing value to your visitors, this will keep them coming back for more.

The more traffic the more sales, the more sales the higher the potential for mucho dinero. And, to help you get started, I have created this chart with 130 acronyms that are related to internet marketing. One of the biggest hurdles in the learning process is deciphering the industry lingo.