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How To Become An Affiliate Marketer: A Beginner's Guide

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Affiliate Marketing Beginner's Guide
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Affiliate marketing is a growing industry that shows no signs of stopping. In fact, affiliate marketing generates over 12 billion dollars globally each year—thanks to William J. Tobin who first introduced the concept twenty years ago. 

We’re guessing you’re here because you want to know how to become an affiliate marketer, but before we do that, let’s go over the fundamentals shall we?

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Simply put, affiliate marketing is where an affiliate can earn money by promoting a brand’s products to his or her audience. Affiliates get paid a commission by the brand when their marketing efforts lead to the desired result (typically this would be a sale, but other desired actions can be an online lead, website traffic, or app download). 

There are three (3) main parties that are involved that make for a successful affiliate marketing system:

  1. Merchant
  2. Affiliate
  3. Consumers

Merchants

Depending on how you would want to refer to it—the creator, the brand, seller or vendor is the company that creates the product or service, that can either be as big as Samsung—an electronics company, or an entrepreneur who sells products or courses online. . 

In other words, anyone or any business can be the merchant behind an affiliate program. 

Affiliate 

Also known as a publisher, or affiliate marketer, the affiliate can be either an individual or a company that markets the merchant’s product in a way that is appealing to potential customers. 

In other words, the affiliate promotes one or several products to try to persuade customers to purchase the product. 

Consumers

This one’s a no-brainer: for any affiliate marketing system to work, there need to be sales—and that only happens when you’ve consumers lined up. 

These consumers either buy or subscribe to the product or service an affiliate puts out there whether it be through a blog, a YouTube or TikTok video, or social media—to which (of course) the affiliate gets a ‘cut’ on BUT not without regulation. 

Read this: the Federal Trade Commission states that in order for affiliate marketers to receive their fair share of the trade, publishers must conspicuously disclose their relationship to the retailer. 

The reason behind this is simple: people are naturally more skeptical of paid endorsements than those that were freely given because…well, (from a consumer’s perspective) the affiliate or publisher has a vested interest in promoting XYZ products. Having this disclosure allows consumers to make an informed choice on whether to buy the product or not. 


Examples of Affiliate Marketing

What are some examples of successful Affiliate Marketers that you can learn from? 

Before the rise of social media (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok), the most successful affiliate marketers created blogs (aka affiliate marketing websites like NerdWallet and ThePointsGuy) as the main channel to promote their affiliate products.  This was no easy feat, as it can take years for a brand-new website to accumulate traffic and see results.

Now, we are seeing more and more people leverage social media, and video storytelling (YouTube, TikTok, IG Reels) as the main channel to promote affiliate offers on. 

Affiliate Marketing on YouTube

YouTuber Cheap Audio Man has amassed 100K+ subscribers within 2 years of being on YouTube.  He is an audiophile whose mission is to help others find high-quality audio-visual and home theatre equipment through product reviews and comparisons, “best of….” compilations, and tutorials. Below is an example of how he uses YouTube for affiliate marketing.


YouTuber Cheap Audio Man reveals his recommendations for the top powered speakers, and provides the affiliate links in the description. He gets paid a commission after someone clicks on his affiliate link and makes a purchase.   

Affiliate Marketing on TikTok

Ciara, aka @toponlinefinds, is an affiliate marketer on TikTok who is in the Amazon gadgets niche.   She creates “Amazon must-haves” TikTok videos, and provides the affiliate links to these Amazon products on her TikTok bio. 

@toponlinefinds uses TikTok as the main platform to create content, build an audience, and promote Amazon affiliate offers.   

Youtuber Cheap Audio Man and TikToker @toponlinefinds highlights the fact that you can become an affiliate marketer without an website or blog. 

You can promote your affiliate link (Amazon for example), directly on your YouTube video description.

TikTok does not allow creators to post clickable links anywhere except on the profile bio, therefore many people will use a landing page (Linktree in this example) to send their audience to. Alternatively, some affiliate marketers on TikTok (and Instagram) simply send their audience to their Amazon storefront page.

Benefits of Being An Affiliate Marketer

You don’t own the product: you are promoting another company’s (merchant) products.  This means the merchant is the party responsible for fulfilling the sale, customer support, and refunds. All you have to do here is to find the right product to promote.

Low Barrier to Entry: It is free to sign up for an affiliate program or network (like Amazon Associates or ClickBank).  Whichever platform you choose to build your audience, whether that is through blogging, vlogs, or social media, most platforms are free to get started. That means that all you need to do to get started is a working computer, laptop, or smartphone, and a reliable internet connection. 

Passive income: Once you have established a sizable audience (either through platforms such as blogging, vlogging, or social media, etc), you can start promoting your affiliate links, and have money continuously pouring in whenever your audience clicks on your affiliate link and makes a purchase. 

Unlimited Earning Potential: In affiliate marketing, you are paid a commission for every sale made.  This performance-based payout structure means that the more you sell, the more you make. 

As for how much is a typical affiliate commission? It varies. Amazon Associates, for example, pays up to 10% commission, depending on the product niche.  Meanwhile, vendors on the popular affiliate network ClickBank, offer up to 75% commission. 


How To Getting Started with Affiliate Marketing

To get started as an affiliate marketer, you need to decide which platform you will use to promote products on. 

Blogging, YouTube, and social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok are popular platforms for affiliate marketing. We shall go into more detail about each platform later in the article.   

Now that you have decided on a platform, you will need to carefully consider what niche you are interested in. Whether that is in Finance, Health and Wellness, Consumer Electronics, Self-Improvement, Fashion & Beauty, etc.  

After you have decided on a niche, the next step is to create informative, quality content centered around your niche, so that it will attract an audience that you can then promote your affiliate offer to. Successful affiliate marketers know that being an authority figure around a certain niche is key to attracting and building an audience. 


Choosing an Affiliate Marketing Offer

When choosing which affiliate marketing product you would like to promote, some things to consider are the payout amount(commission) and the niche.

There are 2 categories when it comes to affiliate marketing offers: there is the affiliate network route, or the affiliate marketing program route. 

An affiliate network is an online marketplace where affiliate publishers connect with merchants who are willing to outsource marketing their products/services to others. Essentially, the affiliate marketing network acts as the “middleman” between the affiliate and the merchant, and manages the affiliate-merchant relationship, transactions, and payouts. 

Here are some of the more popular affiliate websites, that are considered to be the ‘best’ in the scene:

  • ClickBank – compared to other networks, ClickBank is considered to be one of the easiest to sign up for and get verified. It is also one of the oldest and most reliable networks out there.
  • ShareASale – online retailer of health products and home medical supplies. Been operational since 2002.
  • CJ Affiliate – been operational since 1998 and is also considered one of the biggest networks on the scene. Affiliate products include Namecheap, GoDaddy, Grammarly, etc.

One of the perks of joining an affiliate network is you get instant access to all its offers from varying niches, advertising models, and payout pricing that work in almost every country imaginable.

Affiliate Marketing Programs: Any business—both traditional and digital—can launch its own affiliate program. This means: any affiliate can engage in a revenue-sharing deal with a merchant directly. 

Some examples of affiliate programs include:

  • Amazon Associates – Amazon’s affiliate program that helps bloggers and other types of content creators to monetize their traffic.
  • Canva – this free to join affiliate program is good for influencers or bloggers who are in the design niche.
  • Shopify – Shopify Affiliate is great for people who own an active website with an established audience (free to join).

If there is a particular brand’s products that you already know and love, you can enter that search term “[Insert Brand Here] + Affiliate Program” into Google and see if they have an affiliate marketing program. 

When you are promoting a product that you already use, you will have no issue conveying this product's benefits to your audience.

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How to Promote Affiliate Products?

There are several ways you can go about doing this. That being said, here are some of the more popular ways you can market and promote your affiliate product(s): 

Product reviews

Consumers are becoming more and more conscious with the way they buy products— with a whooping 93% of customers read online reviews before buying a product. With that being said, this may be one of the most effective ways of earning top dollar through affiliate marketing. 

Take Wirecutter (formerly known as The Wirecutter) as an example.

This product-review website ‘independently tests and reviews’ consumer goods,  gadgets, and electronics. Through its recommendations, it aims to help shoppers purchase ‘everyday gear’ or gift items. And because the website does not accept sponsored ads, its content is centered around answering reader questions like this review of the best WiFi routers.


Wirecutter is an example of an affiliate marketing website in the consumer tech niche. This website incorporates its affiliate links into product review blog posts. When someone clicks on the affiliate link and makes a purchase, Wirecutter will then earn a commission.

And as for how they make money?

As explained on its How to Support Us page, Wirecutter embeds its codes (to make sure they get credit for sales from traffic taken from its website) to links that redirect to retailer sites. 

If you’re keen to go this route, make sure your reviews are:

Honest. More often than not, people tend to just focus on the good side in an attempt to make a sale—but an honest review should include both the good and the bad. Don’t forget to add product images so your readers know exactly what they’re getting.

Written in a personal tone. Remember: people are reading your review because they are looking for a personal recommendation—not someone who has written something just to make a profit!

Product comparisons

Comparing a couple or more similar products together is another excellent way to ‘poke your audience or readers toward a product you are marketing. With the exponential number of products that have similar features with the same purpose,  it can be a bit confusing to decide which ones are worth buying than the other (yup—try to recall a time you’ve gone grocery shopping and picking items were easy-peasy).

This is why comparisons can be so valuable (for your readers) and profitable (for you)!

And if you aren’t sure which products to compare, think about which products your readers or followers may be looking to buy. Better yet, ask them what kind of product comparisons they would like to see on your channel.

Email newsletters

As you know, email newsletters are one of the most effective ways to give value to your readers, and promote your affiliate products. With projected returns that go anywhere between 3500%–4400%, this makes for a cheap, solid, and worthy investment. 

By using your email list as your source of potential affiliate sales, you could easily end up selling by simply sending newsletters that have your affiliate links embedded in—without looking like you’re doing a ‘hard sell’ (if you know what we mean). Just make sure you’re using a strong call-to-action (CTA) and varying techniques to get their attention. 

Ca-ching, ca-ching!

Blogging

Did you know that 64.5% of affiliate marketers generate traffic by blogging? No wonder Ryan Robinson over at ryrob.com makes mid-five figures every month just through this! 

While that number suggests that most affiliate marketers are bloggers—they aren’t! 

It simply means that 64.5% of them understand that blogging is an effective marketing strategy to draw leads in, and that the key to boosting campaigns is through good content. 

Now, ‘good content’ is subjective, and will differ from person to person—so, instead of testing the waters to see whether your written content will be a hit or miss, write articles based on a buying-intent keyword so that your likelihood of success (and making a sale) is higher. 

Examples may include ‘Best [so and so product] (online)’ or ‘Best [product type] in (current year)’.

Want to know the other variant that does REALLY well on search engines? 

‘How-to…’ articles and tutorials.

How-to articles and tutorials work because—well, there’s not a single person on Earth who knows everything. Whether it’s for a DIY project, or simply wanting to be successful in affiliate marketing: somebody will always want to dig up that information, and if you choose your niche and products wisely, you may just become the next Ryan Robinson—who knows!?

Need a bit of inspiration to get you started with promoting your affiliate product through ‘how-to’ blogging? Check this home improvement blog that’s centered on everything DIY.

From inspiration, to advice and tutorials, the author covers everything from furniture remodels to even something as simple as repainting a house.

See below example of how this blogger incorporated her affiliate products as links inside a blog post.

In this How to Paint a Granite Fireplace Surround affiliate blog post snippet shown above, the blogger mentioned the different tools and paints she used to accomplish the task—which are linked to websites that reference the product on offer. And of course, every purchase made through this affiliate link means commissions! 

Start a YouTube Channel

If creating video content is more of your thing, then starting a YouTube channel is the first step towards making money with affiliate marketing on YouTube. 

The key principle to growing your audience on YouTube? Creating useful content that speaks to your audience  (no surprises here). 

Now, before you start posting videos on YouTube, you should carefully plan out your video marketing strategy. Specifically, consider what your goals are, your target audience, research your competitor's content strategy, implementing SEO keyword best practices to ensure people are finding your content, and more.

Start Posting on TikTok

TikTok is an ideal affiliate marketing platform for beginners who have no followers, to get started with building an audience.

We are guessing that if you are just getting started as an affiliate marketer, you probably don't have a big audience yet.

The good news with TikTok is that anyone, regardless of their followers count, has a shot of going viral. This is great news for affiliate marketing beginners with no followers, to quickly build an audience through creating TikTok videos. 

If you are considering using TikTok as an affiliate marketing platform, go ahead and download the TikTok app, and take a look at the type of content and videos that are performing well in your niche. 

Check out our TikTok for Business guide to learn the best practices and tips for nailing your TikTok strategy.

Paid Ads.

Paid traffic is another great way to help promote affiliate product(s) to get ahead and be accessible to your preferred audiences.

By launching paid ads, you are allowing your product(s) to reach specific demographics that are more likely to convert. 

If you are someone who does not have a large social following, then paid ads can allow you to quickly reach and grow your audience. 

Here are a couple of ways you may try:

Facebook & Instagram Ads

Facebook and Instagram affiliate marketing is a great way to boost your income,  considering the billions of people who access the site every month. With that many people, we’re pretty sure your target market is likely on the platform. 

Through targeted ads, you can have a solid fan base in a span of just a few weeks. Facebook targeting may be based on a user's gender, interests, and age. You just have to know who your target audience is.

However, there are a one caveat with using Facebook ads for affiliate marketing: See, you cannot promote affiliate links directly to your Facebook ads. This means you are only running ads to either grow your audience, or to send traffic to a landing page or blog post which contains your affiliate link(s).

The food recipes website Delish uses Facebook ads to drive traffic to its blog post. The blog post itself is filled with affiliate links.

YouTube Ads

Affiliate marketing with YouTube ads is relatively untapped and very few people have been able to get to a very high level—mainly because running ads on this platform is pricier than say Facebook or Instagram. 

That being said, the general rule of thumb is only resort to this option if your affiliate product is considered high ticket—meaning, your affiliate payout should equate to:

  • $80 USD or higher – if it is an ecomm product; or
  • $300 USD minimum – if you are selling an info-product.

Looking to grow your subscribers base, fast? YouTube Discovery Ads (now known as In-Feed Ads), are a great way to quickly grow your subscribers on YouTube. If you have good copywriting skills, and great video content, consider trying out YouTube Discovery Ads

Learn how you can promote your affiliate product using YouTube ads in our video tutorial below.

TikTok Ads

As a relatively new ad platform, we have seen that the ad costs on TikTok are drastically lower than on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.  TikTok ads are a perfect way to reach your target audience at a cheap price. 

Did you know that you can boost your organic posts with TikTok Ads? Spark Ads are essentially the TikTok version of Facebook boosted posts - if one of your organic TikTok videos is doing really well, you can turn it into a Spark Ad and start running your ad campaign to target your ideal audience! 

Just like affiliate marketing with Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube ads, TikTok’s ad policies state that you cannot directly promote your affiliate link in your ads.  To get around this, you will need to create a landing page or blog post to send your TikTok audience to, where you can, include the affiliate link. 


Whether you choose to run TikTok Ads, YouTube Ads, or Facebook ads for affiliate marketing, you will need to send your paid traffic to your own landing page. This landing page can be in the form of a blog post, product page, online webinar etc that serves as an intermediary between your ad and your affiliate link.

Learn how you can promote your affiliate product using TikTok ads.

Promoting your affiliate products using paid ads is just a numbers game. That being said, always consider your traffic cost versus your affiliate commissions; and if the latter trumps however much money was invested into driving traffic, you’d surely make huge dollars marketing using paid ads.

Link and Banner Ads

Link and banner ads are those sizable display ads that appear in various shapes, sizes, and placements that are embedded in web pages. If clicked, the reader then gets taken either to a product, and in some cases, landing pages where they can know more about the product or service that is advertised. 

These are great at generating impressions—however, there’s one problem: of all the other forms of digital advertising, this is the type that has lower (if not, the least) click-through rates (CTR). 

The reason is because many online users opt to use ad-blocking tools to avoid seeing ads; and if we are to talk about those who are at the other end of the stick, most either consciously (or unconsciously) ignore these ads, or scroll past it like they don’t exist.

Should you decide to incorporate these in any of your web pages: don’t say we didn’t warn ya’.

Ready to give affiliate marketing a go? Here are several tips you can try to achieve success with affiliate marketing. 

3 Affiliate Marketing Tips For Success

Here are a couple of proven tips to help you succeed on your journey to become an affiliate marketer: 

Pick A Specific Niche

We cannot stress enough the importance of pursuing an audience that responds to specific interests. Doing this allows you to customize your affiliate campaigns to a particular niche with precision, and better chances of conversion. The last thing you would want is to become a Jack of all trades but a master of none—because in this context, you’re better off coming across as an expert in one area allowing you to market to those who are most likely going to buy the product.

Create Valuable Content

The key to success with affiliate marketing is to have a sizable audience (or following, for those on social media). How do you build and grow your audience? We said it before, and we will say it again, it is by creating valuable, quality content. Your content should aim to help your audience with their questions, problems, desires, and needs. That is how you establish yourself as a reliable, authority figure in your niche. 

After all, people tend to buy things from people (and brands) that they like and trust, not some pushy salesperson whom they don’t know. 

Pick Your Affiliate Offer Carefully

A bad offer will always be a bad offer, regardless of your advertising and marketing skills. That being said, ALWAYS take the time to educate yourself about the product before committing to it. 

Final Thoughts

Now that we have presented you with examples of successful affiliate marketers, showed you how to get started with affiliate marketing, and provided a detailed breakdown of affiliate marketing platforms, we hope you can better understand what it takes to become an affiliate marketer. 

There are plenty of opportunities to be had with affiliate marketing—and if done the right way, it may be a good way to monetize your content and become a source of passive income. 

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