How to Start Affiliate Marketing 1

How to Start Affiliate Marketing 1

As the saying goes, “there are a million ways to make a buck,” and affiliate marketing is one of them. You have probably heard something about it. That’s why you are here. But how to start affiliate marketing?

Let’s have a look at the traditional roles of a third party that might come between the seller/manufacturer and the customer.


The Agent: My friend Sam has runs a wine wholesaling business for a long time. He buys wine from various makers and employs on-the-road sales people to sell his list of products to bars, liquor stores, pubs and restaurants. Sam has already analysed the marketplace has negotiated volume discounts with his suppliers, based on what he thinks he can sell. He has purchased the products, is waiting on the bill and hoping that his sales team will push products out the door before he has to pay for the goods. Sam is basically an agent.

The Affiliate: My friend Katie used to host Tupperware parties. Remember them? One of the main reasons that Tupperware, founded in 1948 in Orlando, FL, became so successful was their party plan. Sellers hosted gatherings of family and friends to show off their latest range of plastic containers, would take orders and send them in. They didn’t have to analyse their marketplace, or buy any inventory. (Katie told me the only decision she needed to make was how much wine to buy from Sam to ensure her guests were well lubricated and in the buying mood!!) Katie was more an affiliate than an agent.


Because of the massive growth of online sales since everyone started buying PCs, Macs, smartphones and tablets, the sales scene has changed.

In 2016, e-commerce sales exceeded $US1.9 trillion. Have no fear! That number will increase this year, and next, given that many millions of products and many services are cheaper to purchase online than they are to buy in a store.

Sales has been, is, and always will be about:

  • Product
  • Manufacturer
  • The Seller
  • The Customer

Today, products can be physical (such as a bike or a book, which will be delivered by a courier or in the mail), or they can be digital (such an education course or computer software, delivered online).

Manufacturers can be the international giant making cars or tractors, or a work-at-home mom who writes an e-book. One of the advantages for the makers of digital products is that they only have to make one product, unlike the umbrella maker who needs to make thousands.

The seller can be the manufacturer, the agent or the affiliate.

The customer can now travel to a store, the mall or a market or else shop online and purchase with a few keystrokes.


If you are wondering whether affiliate marketing is here to stay, consider these nuggets:

  • Affiliate marketing has never been bigger and by 2019, will grow to around $6 billion.
  • The success of massive companies such as Apple, HP, Best Buy, Etsy has in part been built on the strength of their affiliate networks.
  • The online affiliate marketplace has over 500 million products.

Yes, affiliate marketing is here to stay. It has grown every single year since 2002, and presents the best business opportunity of our age. Fewer people might be shopping in stores, but more are shopping online, as the figures reveal.


One of the giants of affiliate marketing today is Amazon. You will see advertising for books, DVDs and all sorts of goods sold by Amazon on thousands of different websites.

You will find Amazon ads on this site, because I am an affiliate.

Amazon isn’t paying me or anyone else to advertise their products. Amazon Associates don’t earn anything when readers click on an ad.

However, if they buy a products through these ads, Amazon will recognize the affiliate ID in the order code and credit the affiliate’s account with a small percentage of the sale. It costs you no extra, but Amazon pays money to affiliates that it might have spent on advertising elsewhere.

There are those Amazon affiliates making a good living doing nothing else but selling products from this monolith. They are choosing the right products and ensuring their ad placements are seen by millions of people. (I’ll explain that in a future post.)

There are many other companies that run their own affiliate programs, offering you a slice of the pie if you can move their product for them. If you Google the name of the company or product and add “affiliate program” to the search, you will find plenty of examples.


There are several websites that specialise in online products. You might have heard of Clickbank, JVZoo and Warrior Forum.

Through these avenues and others, you can become a seller or an affiliate of digital material. The product might be an eBook or a super new WordPress plugin. Customers buy online with a credit card or PayPal and receive their product immediately through a download or an entry code.

If you are the seller, you will write or engineer a digital product and perhaps encourage affiliates to help sell it for you. You will incentivise them to jump on board to promote your product and pay them a commission for each sale.

As an affiliate, you will sell the products created by others and receive a commission on every sale. Commissions are usually very generous on these sales, but competition can be fierce, as some of the larger affiliates (who are usually sellers of their own products as well) have massive mailing lists, sometimes large advertising budgets (and offer bonuses that are sometimes not as good as they sound).

In addition, until you can prove to sellers that you have web traffic and customers and a proven record of sales, you might find it difficult to be approved. Some will, some won’t.


The advantages of affiliate marketing are obvious:

  • You don’t need your own product
  • You never need to buy or touch a product
  • You don’t need to invoice the customer or seller, because it is all automated.

The seller has the advantage of being able to build a mailing list through access to all of the buyers who purchase through his/her affiliates.

The trick is to come up with a product that will have affiliates clambering after it. If they do, you know you are on a winner.


This article is the first in a series How to Start Affiliate Marketing.   There are endless possibilities, but plenty of challenges too. If you are really keen to get your teeth into it, there is no better place to learn the ropes than Wealthy Affiliate. You can read more about that here. and you can join FREE to learn even more.

Here’s a sample lesson.

That’s our take. What do you think? Please leave your comments below.


  1. Great article and i enjoy the history lesson. I never knew that Tupperware was part of this post but it makes sense. And who doesn’t use tupperware or some variation of it!! I just wish I can find all those lids!!

    Yes, affiliate marketing is here to stay and your article shows it is the way to go!! you would have had me sold if I wasn’t already.

    • Tupperware is still massively popular, but you are right, the lids have legs and minds of their own. Cheers Brent.

  2. Nice article. Affiliate marketing is challenging but can be rewarding with commitment. The suggestions you offer are also good recommendations. Thanks for sharing.

    • Cheers Maurice. This article is just a primer. More info to come. Thanks.

  3. Nice, well written article about how to start affiliate marketing! When I first started, I though affiliate marketing was really complicated and I never even started because I thought it was too hard. But when I did start, I started making sales, and realized it’s not that hard. You just have to find a basic system and repeat it. Thanks for sharing this article. Very informative!

    • Thanks Tim. The whole shebang can be difficult to swallow in one bite, so I thought I would break it down to the basics.

  4. Being an affiliate marketer seems so simple and like it would be very easy to make money. What do you think is the biggest challenge with being an affiliate marketer?

    • There are several, Kurtis. The biggest challenge is getting your ads in front of buyers is #1. You could buy ads, but that can be expensive. Wealthy Affiliate teaches a solid system to develop a popular website where you can advertise products from others (or your own). If you stick at it, the results should come.

  5. Great review Mike. I love this idea and especially the way you have given readers a choice at the end to decide what they want to do. I think this business model works well because you end up promoting products and services you are using anyway. If you do that your experience will help your passion come out in your review. Well done, thanks for this.

    • Thanks Peter. There are a lot of choices to be made. I hope to steer my readers away from a few bad decisions and towards some ideas and things that will help.

  6. Great article!

    I am interested in Affiliate Marketing but don’t know much about it. How hard is it to be a successful affiliate? What should I look out for? I heard it is not that easy.

    • It is easy to be in it, but not easy to be successful in it. There are more barriers to success than in some endeavours, but fewer barriers to entry. Wealthy Affiliate provided a great roadmap for those starting out. Do the courses, follow what you learn and you give yourself the bet chance at success.

  7. Thanks for Mike. I have obviously heard of Amazon but not the other ones that you listed here. I will have to check them out and see if they’re appropriate for my niche of genealogy.

    Thanks again,

  8. Great article and explanation of what affiliate marketing is. I do believe that there are a lot of people that still do not know what affiliate marketing is all about. You have made it very clear and easy to understand. Excellent post and nice job on your site.

    • Thanks Laurie. Hope it helps!

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