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Affiliate Marketing: A Beginner’s Guide to Earning Passive Income

I have some exciting news for anyone looking to make money online! Have you ever heard of affiliate marketing? It’s a way to earn a commission for promoting someone else’s products. All you have to do is find a product you enjoy, promote it, and earn a piece of the profit from each sale you make.

Affiliate marketing has become increasingly popular in recent years, and for good reason. It’s a win-win situation for both the brand and the affiliate marketer. In fact, affiliate marketing spend in the United States has increased from $5.4 billion in 2017 to $8.2 billion in 2022. That means there’s plenty of room for anyone looking to get in on the action.

Key Takeaways

  • Affiliate marketing is a way to earn a commission for promoting someone else’s products.
  • It’s a win-win situation for both the brand and the affiliate marketer.
  • Affiliate marketing spend in the United States has increased from $5.4 billion in 2017 to $8.2 billion in 2022.

How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?

Affiliate marketing is a marketing strategy that involves three different parties: the seller and product creators, the affiliate or publisher, and the consumer. In this section, I will explain how these parties work together to make affiliate marketing a success.

Seller and Product Creators

The seller, also known as the brand, is the individual or company that creates or owns a product to be marketed. The seller does not necessarily need to be involved in the marketing process, but they may also act as the advertiser and profit from the revenue sharing associated with affiliate marketing.

For example, a seller could be an ecommerce merchant that started a dropshipping business and wants to reach a new audience by paying affiliate sites to promote their products. Or the seller could be a SaaS company that leverages affiliates to help sell their marketing software.

The Affiliate or Publisher

The affiliate is an individual or company that markets the seller’s product to potential consumers. The affiliate promotes the product in an appealing way to persuade consumers that it is valuable or beneficial to them and convince them to purchase the product. If the consumer does end up buying the product, the affiliate receives a portion of the revenue made.

Affiliates often have a specific audience to whom they market, adhering to that audience’s interests. This creates a defined niche or personal brand that helps the affiliate attract consumers who will be most likely to act on the promotion.

The Consumer

The consumer is the individual who purchases the product/service being marketed by the affiliate. The affiliate markets the product/service to consumers through various channels, such as social media, blogs, or YouTube videos. If the consumer deems the product as valuable or beneficial to them, they follow the affiliate link and checkout on the merchant’s website. If the customer does purchase the item, then the affiliate receives a portion of the revenue made.

However, the customer must be aware that the affiliate is receiving a commission off the product. According to the Federal Trade Commission, an affiliate marketer must clearly and conspicuously disclose their relationship to the retailer, allowing the consumer to decide how much weight to give the endorsement.

In conclusion, affiliate marketing works by spreading the responsibilities of product marketing and creation across parties, leveraging the abilities of a variety of individuals for a more effective marketing strategy while providing contributors with a share of the profit. The seller and product creators, the affiliate or publisher, and the consumer all play important roles in making affiliate marketing a success.

Types of Affiliate Marketing

As an affiliate marketer, it’s essential to understand the different types of affiliate marketing to determine which one is suitable for you. In 2009, Pat Flynn, a renowned affiliate marketer, categorized affiliate marketing into three types – Unattached, Related, and Involved. Here’s a breakdown of each category to help you decide which route to take.


In the unattached business model, the affiliate marketer has no connection to the product or service they are promoting. They have no expertise or authority in the niche of the product, nor can they make claims about its use. Unattached affiliates typically run PPC (pay-per-click) marketing campaigns, using an affiliate link in hopes that shoppers will click it and make a purchase on their own.

While unattached affiliate marketing may be attractive due to its lack of commitment, it’s generally for those who simply want to generate an income without investing in the product or customer relationship.


A happy medium between unattached and involved, related affiliate marketing is for those who don’t necessarily use the product or service, but who are somehow related to the niche audience. These affiliates often have some sort of influence in the niche and an established following, and can, therefore, offer some authority.

For example, suppose you’re promoting a clothing brand you’ve never used before, but you have an audience through a fashion blog or YouTube channel. In that case, you would be considered a related affiliate marketer.

The advantage of this type of affiliate marketing is that the affiliate has the expertise to generate traffic. However, they may risk recommending a bad product or service if they’ve never actually used it before, potentially costing them the trust of their audience.


As the name suggests, involved affiliate marketing describes those who are closely tied to the product or service they’re promoting. The affiliate has tried the product themselves, trusts that it will provide a good experience, and has the authority to make claims about its use.

Rather than relying on pay-per-click, involved affiliate marketers use their personal experiences with the product in their marketing efforts, and customers can trust them as reliable sources of information.

Of course, this type of affiliate marketing requires more legwork and time to build credibility, but it will likely result in greater payoffs down the road.

Understanding the different types of affiliate marketing is crucial for choosing the right one that aligns with your goals and values. Whether you are an unattached, related, or involved affiliate marketer, it’s essential to stay honest and transparent with your audience to build trust and credibility.

How Do Affiliate Marketers Get Paid?

As an affiliate marketer, getting paid is a crucial aspect of the job. There are various ways in which affiliates can earn money, and it depends on the program they are involved with. Here are the four most common ways affiliates get paid:

Pay per sale.

This is the most common method of payment in affiliate marketing. The affiliate receives a commission on the sale price of the product after the consumer makes a purchase. The commission percentage varies depending on the program, and the affiliate must convince the consumer to buy the product before receiving compensation.

Pay per lead.

This payment structure is more complicated than pay per sale. The affiliate earns a commission based on the number of leads they convert. The leads can be in the form of filling out a contact form, subscribing to a newsletter, or downloading software or files. The affiliate must persuade the consumer to visit the merchant’s website and complete the desired action.

Pay per click.

Affiliate marketers generate traffic to websites and try to get customers to click and take action. PPC (pay per click) programs incentivize the affiliate to redirect consumers from their marketing platform to the merchant’s website. The affiliate is paid based on the increase in web traffic. There are two common concepts in PPC:

  • CPA (cost-per-acquisition): The affiliate gets paid each time the seller or retailer acquires a lead. An affiliate link takes the customer to the merchant’s online store, and they take an action, such as subscribing to an email list or filling out a “Contact Us” form.
  • EPC (earnings-per-click): This measures the average earnings per 100 clicks for all affiliates in a retailer’s affiliate program.

Pay per install.

In this payment system, the affiliate is paid each time they direct a user to the merchant’s website and the user installs a product, usually a mobile app or software. The retailer budgets for a certain amount per install generated via an affiliate program, and the affiliate receives a commission based on the number of installs.

In conclusion, affiliates can earn money through various payment structures, including pay per sale, pay per lead, pay per click, and pay per install. The payment structure depends on the program the affiliate is involved with, and it is essential for the affiliate to understand the payment structure to maximize their earnings.

Why Be an Affiliate Marketer?

Passive Income

As an affiliate marketer, I have the opportunity to earn passive income. I invest an initial amount of time into a campaign, and I see continuous returns on that time as consumers purchase the product over the following days and weeks. Even when I’m not in front of my computer, my marketing skills are earning me a steady flow of income.

No Customer Support

One of the benefits of being an affiliate marketer is that I never have to deal with customer support or customer satisfaction. The entire job of the affiliate marketer is to link the seller with the consumer. The seller deals with any consumer complaints after I receive my commission from the sale.

Work from Home

I love the fact that I can work from home as an affiliate marketer. I can launch campaigns and receive revenue from the products that sellers create while working from the comfort of my own home. This is a job I can do without ever getting out of my pajamas.


Affiliate marketing can be done at a low cost, meaning I can get started quickly and without much hassle. There are no unexpected fees to worry about, and I don’t need to create a product. Beginning this line of work is relatively straightforward.

Convenient and Flexible

Since I’m essentially becoming a freelancer, I get ultimate independence in setting my own goals, redirecting my path when I feel so inclined, choosing the products that interest me, and even determining my own hours. This convenience means I can diversify my portfolio if I like or focus solely on simple and straightforward campaigns. I’m also free from company restrictions and regulations as well as ill-performing teams.

Performance-Based Rewards

One of the most significant benefits of affiliate marketing is that it is purely based on my performance. I get from it what I put into it. Honing my reviewing skills and writing engaging campaigns will translate to direct improvements in my revenue. I finally get paid for the outstanding work I do!

Common Types of Affiliate Marketing Channels


As an affiliate marketer, I know that influencers can be powerful tools in promoting products. Influencers are content creators who have a large following and can impact the purchasing decisions of their audience. They can promote products through social media posts, blogs, and other interactions with their followers and receive a share of the profits they helped to create. Influencer marketing campaigns are particularly popular on Instagram and TikTok, where brands form partnerships with influencers who are seen as experts or authorities in their specific niches.


Another effective marketing channel for affiliates is bloggers. Bloggers have the ability to rank organically in search engine queries and excel at increasing a seller’s conversions through content marketing. They sample the product or service and then write a comprehensive review that promotes the brand in a compelling way, driving traffic back to the seller’s site. The blogger is awarded for their influence in spreading the word about the value of the product, helping to improve the seller’s sales.

Paid Search-Focused Microsites

Developing and monetizing microsites can also garner a serious amount of affiliate sales. These sites are advertised within a partner site or on the sponsored listings of a search engine. They are distinct and separate from the organization’s main site. By offering more focused, relevant content to a specific audience, microsites lead to increased conversions due to their simple and straightforward call to action.

Email Lists

Despite its older origins, email marketing is still a viable source of affiliate marketing income. Some affiliates have email lists they can use to promote the seller’s products. Others may leverage email newsletters that include hyperlinks to products, earning a commission after the consumer purchases the product. Another method is for the affiliate to build an email list over time. They use their various campaigns to collect emails en masse, then send out emails regarding the products they are promoting.

Large Media Websites

Designed to create a huge amount of traffic at all times, large media websites focus on building an audience of millions. These websites promote products to their massive audience through the use of banners and contextual affiliate links. This method offers superior exposure and improves conversion rates, resulting in top-notch revenue for both the seller and the affiliate.

In conclusion, as an affiliate marketer, I know that there are various marketing channels that can be used to promote products. By leveraging influencers, bloggers, paid search-focused microsites, email lists, and large media websites, affiliates can increase their conversions and ultimately earn more revenue.

Tips to Help You Become A Successful Affiliate Marketer

Develop a Connection with Your Audience

To succeed in affiliate marketing, it is important to build a strong relationship with your audience. This means finding a niche that you are passionate about and creating content that resonates with your audience. By establishing yourself as an expert in your niche, you can gain the trust of your audience and increase the likelihood of conversions.

Personalize Your Marketing Campaigns

One of the keys to success in affiliate marketing is to make your campaigns personal. Choose products and services that you believe in and that will genuinely benefit your audience. By promoting products that you are passionate about, you can build trust with your audience and increase the likelihood of conversions. Additionally, consider using email outreach to connect with other bloggers and influencers in your niche to expand your reach.

Write Product Reviews

Product reviews are a powerful tool in affiliate marketing. Focus on reviewing products and services that are relevant to your niche and that you have personally used. Be sure to provide detailed and articulate content that highlights the benefits of the product and how it compares to others in the same category. By providing valuable information to your audience, you can increase the likelihood of conversions.

Diversify Your Marketing Strategies

To maximize your success in affiliate marketing, it is important to use multiple marketing strategies. This can include email campaigns, blogging, landing pages, review sites, and social media. By diversifying your marketing strategies, you can reach a wider audience and increase the likelihood of conversions.

Choose Campaigns Carefully

Not all products and services are created equal. Before promoting a product, it is important to research the demand and the seller to ensure that it is a profitable opportunity. Choose products that align with your niche and that you believe in. By promoting high-quality products, you can build trust with your audience and increase the likelihood of conversions.

Stay Current with Trends

The world of affiliate marketing is constantly evolving. To stay competitive, it is important to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and marketing strategies. This can include attending industry events, reading industry publications, and networking with other affiliate marketers. By staying current with trends, you can ensure that your conversion rates remain high and that you continue to generate revenue.

Benefits To Joining the BigCommerce Affiliate Program

Industry-Leading Commissions

By joining the BigCommerce affiliate program, I can earn a 200% bounty per referral and $1,500 per Enterprise referral, with no cap on commissions. As I drive more referrals through the program, my commission tier will increase, allowing me to earn even more. Additionally, there are no obligations or minimum commitments required to join the program.

Strategic Growth

BigCommerce provides unique strategies to help me grow my business, increase my website’s visibility, and drive more sales. By linking to WordPress blogs, webinars, and other quality content developed by BigCommerce for my audience, I can save time and money on content creation.

Powerful Tracking

With the affiliate dashboard, I can get a comprehensive look at my clicks, trials, sales, and commissions. I can easily view my earnings, track metrics and performance, and get paid at the same time every month.

A Dedicated Account Manager

As an affiliate, I will have direct access to an account manager who understands my business and goals. BigCommerce will work with me and their conversion rate experts to maximize my commissions and earnings per click.

Promotion Made Easy

Promoting BigCommerce is made easy with pre-made text links, banners, and content available in my dashboard. I can promote BigCommerce anywhere on my site by simply inserting their affiliate links on my pages.

Overall, the BigCommerce affiliate program offers industry-leading commissions, strategic growth opportunities, powerful tracking, a dedicated account manager, and easy promotion options, making it an excellent choice for anyone looking to earn money through affiliate marketing.

How to Join The BigCommerce Affiliate Program

To join the BigCommerce affiliate marketing program, simply apply through their website. Once your application is approved, you will receive a unique affiliate link to track every referral you generate. BigCommerce provides support, tracking, reporting, and payments to their affiliate partners. If you are interested in launching an online business, migrating your ecommerce platform, or simply interested in ecommerce content, the BigCommerce affiliate program is a great opportunity to earn commissions. BigCommerce is committed to the success of their affiliate partners, and their free resources can help you scale smarter and accelerate your online growth. Access their collection of free resources now.

The Final Word

As an experienced marketer, I can confidently say that affiliate marketing is a powerful tool for engaging your audience and increasing your revenue. By utilizing reviews, blogs, social media, and webinar software, you can convert passive readers into active consumers. Follow the tips in this article to enhance your paycheck one click at a time. Remember to always provide value to your audience and choose products that align with your brand. With dedication and hard work, affiliate marketing can be a lucrative addition to your marketing strategy.

FAQs About Affiliate Marketing

Influencer Marketing: Strategies + Examples

As an affiliate marketer, you may want to try influencer marketing to promote your products. Influencer marketing involves partnering with social media influencers to promote your products to their followers. To make the most of your influencer marketing strategy, you should consider the following:

  • Choose influencers who are a good fit for your products and niche
  • Set clear goals and expectations for your influencer campaign
  • Provide clear guidelines for your influencers to follow, including how to disclose their relationship with you
  • Monitor your campaign and adjust as necessary

Some examples of successful influencer marketing campaigns include Daniel Wellington’s partnership with micro-influencers on Instagram and Glossier’s use of user-generated content to promote their products.

30 Ecommerce Conversion Rate Optimization Steps to Help Boost Sales

As an affiliate marketer, your success depends on your ability to drive sales for your merchant partners. To help boost your conversion rates, consider implementing the following strategies:

  • Optimize your website for speed and mobile devices
  • Use clear and compelling product descriptions and images
  • Offer free shipping and easy returns
  • Use social proof, such as customer reviews and ratings, to build trust with your audience
  • Use scarcity and urgency tactics, such as limited-time offers and low stock notifications, to encourage purchases

By implementing these strategies and continuously testing and optimizing your website, you can help boost your conversion rates and drive more sales for your merchant partners.

Enterprise Ecommerce Platform Comparison Guide

If you’re looking to start an ecommerce business or upgrade your existing platform, you may be overwhelmed by the number of options available. To help you make an informed decision, consider the following factors when comparing enterprise ecommerce platforms:

  • Features and functionality, such as inventory management, payment processing, and marketing tools
  • Scalability and flexibility to meet your business’s needs as it grows
  • Integration with third-party tools and services
  • Security and compliance with industry standards
  • Customer support and resources

Some popular enterprise ecommerce platforms include Shopify Plus, Magento Commerce, and Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Consider your business’s specific needs and budget when choosing a platform.

Ecommerce Website Design Examples

As an affiliate marketer, you may be promoting products on your own website or blog. To make the most of your website, consider the following design elements:

  • A clean and simple layout that is easy to navigate
  • High-quality product images and videos
  • Clear calls-to-action, such as “Buy Now” buttons
  • Trust signals, such as security badges and customer reviews
  • Mobile responsiveness and fast load times

Some examples of well-designed ecommerce websites include Nike, Sephora, and Warby Parker. By incorporating these design elements and continuously testing and optimizing your website, you can help drive more sales for your merchant partners.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is affiliate marketing and how does it work?

Affiliate marketing is a type of performance-based marketing in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought about by the affiliate’s own marketing efforts. Essentially, an affiliate promotes a product or service to their own audience and earns a commission for each sale made through their unique affiliate link.

How much do Amazon affiliates make?

Amazon affiliates can make varying amounts of money depending on a variety of factors such as the products they promote, the commission rate for those products, and the amount of traffic and sales generated through their affiliate links. However, Amazon affiliate commissions typically range from 1% to 10% of the sale price of the product.

Who is the highest paid affiliate marketer?

There are many successful affiliate marketers who earn significant amounts of money through their marketing efforts. However, it is difficult to determine who the highest paid affiliate marketer is as this information is not publicly available.

Do affiliate marketers make money?

Yes, affiliate marketers can make money through commissions earned on sales made through their unique affiliate links. However, the amount of money they make can vary greatly depending on a variety of factors such as the products they promote, the commission rate for those products, and the amount of traffic and sales generated through their affiliate links.

Is affiliate marketing worth it?

Affiliate marketing can be a worthwhile endeavor for those who are willing to put in the time and effort to build a successful affiliate marketing business. However, it is important to note that affiliate marketing is not a get-rich-quick scheme and requires dedication and hard work to be successful.

Is affiliate marketing hard for beginners?

Like any new venture, affiliate marketing can be challenging for beginners. However, with the right training and guidance, beginners can learn the necessary skills and strategies to build a successful affiliate marketing business. It is important to approach affiliate marketing with a willingness to learn and a commitment to putting in the necessary work to succeed.


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