What is Affiliate Marketing?

Good question!

Quite simply, affiliate marketing is promoting someone else’s product in return for a commission on the sale. It is one of the most popular forms on “Internet Marketing” with many people around the world running an affiliate martketing business from their front room or home office.

Given that you could be forgiven for thinking that it is a little bit “tin pot”, but nothing could be further from the truth. If you’re tempted to think that, digest this. In 2014, total affiliate turnover in the United States was a staggering $4 Billion (source amNavigator). In the U.K it was only just shy of £1 Billion with the most recent figure I could find being £814 million for 2013 (source The Drum).

It’s a huge market and many individuals engaged in this activity are earning huge sums of money – some as much as six figures per month. Still doubt the power of affiliate marketing?

Now having proven that it is indeed a worthwhile activity, the one question I am often asked by people wanting to get a slice of the pie is “how does it all work”?

How Affiliate Marketing Works

how affiliate marketing worksThis graphic shows in very broad terms how affiliate marketing works. Let’s break it down.

  • You put up a web property to promote a product
  • You send traffic to that property
  • Interested parties buy the product via a special (affiliate) link placed on your site
  • As part of the product purchase process you are paid a commission
  • Buyers are added to the vendors mailing list
  • Buyers are often cookied by your affiliate link to ensure you receive commissions on future sales.

Now I do agree that all sounds very simplistic so let’s try and put some meat on the bones. After all, things are rarely as sim ple as they seem at first glance.


How Do You Become An Affiliate?

There are many ways in which you can become an affiliate. Probably the best place to start is with affiliate agregators. These are like massive online marketplaces where you can find a whole host of amazing products to promote. Now, I have to say, what marketplace you go to really does depend on the market you want to promote to.

Many products and services will also run their own affiliate programs. Do a Google search for “product affiliate program” for some of your favorite products – see what comes up.

The main affiliate networks (as they are called) tend to be generalist sites and include Amazon, Commission Junction and Linkshare. Getting memberships of these sites is generally fairly easy, so you can be up and running and promoting on Amazon, for example, in no time at all. You can even build your own store on Amazon and have it hosted for you by Amazon.

Here’s a list of the main “physical” product networks


The downside with these networks and promoting “physical” products is that the commissions are low. Amazon, for example, starts at around 4%, you need to sell a lot and…their cookies do not last very long at all.

What’s a Cookie?

A cookie is a small piece of script that gets downloaded into your browser when you click a link. If you get cookied by an affiliate link, it just ensures the affiliate gets paid even if you don’t buy first time you visit the site via their link. Cokies normally last for 30-60 days, which I think is fair. Amazon cookies last 24 hours – very stingey considering the poor commission rates. They will argue people are likely to buy a lot of unreleated stuff ion each visit. But…

Products Delivered Online

clickbank affiliate marketplaceOne of the biggest “soft product” (so eBooks, Online courses, Video courses) networks is called Clickbank and is also included in the mthink list above. Whatever niche you can think of, Clickbank will have a product for it! Most affiliate marketers start here.

The reason they start here is that it is free to join and you are automatically approved for ALL products. On many networks, like JVZoo, for example, in the Internet Marketing niche, you need to be approved to market a product. The “chicken and egg” scenario is that a product marketer will be very unlikely to approve you if you have no sales previously. That does beg the question, how do you get a start? It’s a valid question and is something I’ll cover on some free video training soon.

But, have a look around the Clickbank market place. Not only will you find a huge amount of products to promote, you can also use it as a niche / market research tool to find areas you might like to market in to.


CPA is another great way to get into affiliate marketing. Personally I LOVE CPA offers because you don’t need anyone to buy anything – deep joy! CPA stands for Cost Per Action, which is very descriptive. On a CPA offer the customer sipy has to “sign up” for whatever you are promoting in order for you to get a commission as the affiliate marketer. There are a number of networks that provide these offers.

Big networks include Never Blue, CPA Way, Max Bounty, Peer Fly and Clickbooth. Now, I have to say some of these networks are a little bit anal about letting new marketers sign up, so you do need to work out a decent pitch to these Guys as to why they should let you on their networks. You will get an affiliate manager you can talk to directly and these Guys are normally very helpful…after all they want you to make sales.

You will also find that, even once you have “got in” to some of these networks, getting approval for some of the really juicy offers will be tough. Again it’s a chicken and egg siutaion as the vendor will often want to see a track record of success before they approve you on certain offers. The only way around this is to build that track record. So, start with offers that are easy to get accepted for and build up.

And, don’t give up with these Guys, keep at it. Persistence is the one thing failure can’t live with…Lee and I got rejected by Never Blue about 7 times – you have to laugh.

The Ultimate Market Place

Now, if you go to all of these networks separately, you could conceivably spend all day just looking around. Thankfully there is an answer. It’s called Offer Vault.

Visit Offer Vault Here

Offer Vault is like a massive aggregator of pretty much every aggregated affiliate network that exists. So, it has to be the first place you visit when you first start researching both markets and possible offers / products to promote. Offer Vault has proved invaulable time and again in our affiliate marketing business. What I like about it is you can search the offers in various ways. You can search by market, niche or product name, but more importantly…by commission rate!

I like big ticket items that pay big commissions. Why would you want to make 100 sales at $5/sale on Amazon when you can get commissions of $50 and above by finding the right products and offers in the Vault? It’s really a “no brainer”. That’s ten times less sales to make the same money, and, on a CPA offer, as I said, it’s normally paid on sign up as opposed to a sale.

I guess it’s a case  of working smart in situations like this. I got very much “seduced” by Amazon when I forst got started and wanted to sell “glamour” products like LED TV sets and train sets. Sold quite a few as it happens, but I would have got much more “bang for my buck” if I’d promoted items with better commission rates. You live and learn, hopefully this site will help you learn more quickly than Lee and I did 🙂

O.K, that just about wraps up this overview of affiliate marketing, I hope you’ve found it useful.



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