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

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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