Affiliate marketing is a type of marketing in which you are paid based on how well you perform. In the case of affiliate marketing, this means that an affiliate sells a product on behalf of the merchant and receives a pre-negotiated commission, which is typically a fixed amount or a percentage of the sale.

This is a great advertising method for e-commerce stores because they only have to pay after a transaction is completed, but it works for any business model.

Affiliate marketing is possible if you have a product to sell or can find a product to promote.

The unique aspect of this type of marketing is that it benefits everyone. For example, the customer may discover products that they would not have discovered otherwise. The product has also been recommended by someone they (most likely) trust.

When we look at the other side, that of marketing, merchants, and networks (more on this later), we see that everyone gets a cut of the revenue.

Eighty-one percent of brands have an affiliate program.

And it does not appear that this figure will decrease in the near future. Since the second quarter of 2017, affiliate marketing revenue has increased by nearly 23% year on year.

But, what is affiliate marketing?

A system in which everyone benefits and more product is sold to more customers. It’s a great option for anyone looking to boost their bottom line because it’s both accessible and scalable, regardless of whether you are the seller or the merchant.

But we still don’t understand how affiliate marketing works! To properly understand affiliate marketing, you must first understand the relationships that exist within affiliate marketing.

What are the affiliate marketing rates like?

Affiliate marketing is all about relationships, whether they are personal or professional. The customer-affiliate relationship should be built on the same principles as the affiliate-merchant relationship: high levels of trust, fair terms, and transparency.

Transparency, by the way, is not something we advocate here. In the United States, it is a legal requirement.

In the most basic form of affiliate marketing, three parties are involved:

  • The client (public)
  • The affiliate (promoter)
  • The brand owner (also advertiser)

By the way, did you know that affiliate marketing now accounts for 16% of all e-commerce sales? It’s even more critical to understand the cycle! We consider these from the standpoint of the affiliate.

First, the affiliate locates a product and contacts the merchant who sells it. When the affiliate makes a sale for the merchant, the affiliate and the merchant agree on a commission rate – either a fixed amount or a percentage.

The affiliate then promotes the product to their target audience, frequently using a unique link to track sales and referrals. The merchant pays the commission when the transaction is completed.

Repeat this a few times to get the affiliate’s life cycle.

What exactly are Affiliate Networks?

We didn’t just postpone this question for ourselves.

This is due to two factors:

  1. First and foremost, affiliate networks are not, in our humble opinion, the best option.
  2. They are not always a good option for small businesses.

Affiliate networks bridge the affiliate and the merchant, bringing a third party into the affiliate mix.

They make affiliate marketing easier in a variety of ways. 

However, as you might expect, this one comes at a cost.

The terms of your affiliate program are subject to the network’s policies, and you can expect a significant portion of their budget to be spent on monthly maintenance.

The majority of well-known brands are members of an affiliate network. Two well-known examples are Rakuten Marketing and ShareASale.

Walmart, for example, uses Rakuten Marketing as its affiliate network.

Affiliate networks aren’t without their benefits. Nonetheless, rather than working with a third party, we decided to create our own affiliate program. However, if you have a limited budget and want to get started as soon as possible, there are numerous affiliate networks to consider.

How do I sign up as an affiliate?

We’ve talked a lot about the various parties involved in affiliate marketing, but we’ve barely touched on the main one.

So now, let’s talk about how you fit into the bigger picture of affiliate marketing.

You will undoubtedly have opportunities if you are a blogger. The larger your audience, the greater the number of opportunities.

However, you do not have to be a major player. In fact, if you have a small audience, you will be considered a micro-influencer,’ and companies these days are obsessed with micro-influencers.

Micro-influencers provide better engagement and cost less than larger-fan-base influencers.

Step 1: Sign up for a network and/or an affiliate program.

Alternatively, you could start your own. We’ve already mentioned a few networks you can join, but CJ Affiliate and VigLink are also viable options.

If you prefer not to do so – which I understand – you can find affiliate programs by conducting a quick search. What is your area of expertise? Use these to identify potential programs for which you can apply for membership.

For example, if you run a beauty blog, you should probably begin with cosmetics dealers. Choose the well-known names first to see if they have a program for you.

Step 2: Select appropriate products

Just because a retailer is in your niche doesn’t mean that every product is appropriate. Selling these products and earning a commission is difficult to work, so it’s critical that you find products that appeal to your target audience.

If you have a beauty blog, you most likely believe your niche is ‘women’s beauty products.’ In reality, your niche is likely to be much smaller. If you want to sell beauty products from other countries, you should promote affiliate products that meet this criterion.

Step 3: Market your products

Blogging is a relatively simple way to begin promoting products. However, it is more than simply mentioning a product and encouraging people to buy it. To make your point, your content must be of high quality (which often means lengthy articles).

Longer blog posts may take longer to write, but they deliver up to 9x more leads, making them well worth the effort for an affiliate.

NerdWallet, for example, derives the majority of its revenue from affiliates. Almost all of their articles, including reviews, are more than 1,000 words long.

For example, take a look at this 6,000-word article on the best credit cards of 2018.

Step 4: Profit

This step is meant to be amusing, but once you’ve joined a program, discovered a product, and advertise it, there’s only one thing left to do: profit.

Affiliate marketing can be as simple as that. In theory, at least.

How do I become a merchant?

Although many of the steps are the same, becoming a merchant is a little more difficult than becoming an affiliate. Steps 1 and 2 can be skipped if you already have an established eCommerce store.

If not, let’s get started.

Step 1: Identify a market niche.

As previously stated, affiliate marketing is primarily dependent on the relationships between the parties involved. As a merchant, you must deal with an additional relationship that must be maintained with your customers.

You’ll need a niche if you want to start an affiliate program or an eCommerce store that generates more than pennies. You may get fewer leads in a niche market, but you will get a much higher conversion rate.

A general product may work for certain products, such as Apple products, but a niche is the greatest option for a store that wants to produce revenue as rapidly as possible.

It is also critical to collaborate with affiliates who have a lot of clout with their target demographic. This means you’ll need someone with a certain level of authority or image inside a specific sector.

There are two techniques to identify a niche.

Step 1: Begin with a product.

If you already have a product that you want to sell, you should target a market need with a specific audience. Instead of seeking audiences based on demographics such as location, look for audiences based on psychographics.

After all, 57 percent of shoppers have made a purchase at a store located a long-distance away. If you only have customers from a specific location, you limit your potential earnings.

So, if you’re trying to sell a product like online financial education, your niche audience might include people who fit the following psychographics:

  • A lack of financial literacy.
  • Owner of a small or new business.
  • Likes the overall picture.

If the product you wish to offer matches the demands of people who have those characteristics, you’ve located your target audience. If not, you should check into it further.

It is worth noting that the majority of eCommerce stores use the second model, which begins with the general public and then searches for a product based on the same market requirement factors.

Specific situations where you begin with a product instead are occasions when you develop something distinctive and new to create demand rather than respond to existing demand.

Step 2: Develop your affiliate program’s terms.

We’ve already touched on the importance of offering competitive commission rates. As a general rule, your commission should begin at 10%. However, before establishing your own affiliate commission rate, it is usually a good idea to look at the competition. What do they have to offer? See if you can come up with something better.

Affiliates must work hard to sell your product – social media posts, blog entries, webinars, and so on – so it must be worthwhile.

Also, make certain that all terms and conditions are clearly stated from the outset. The more transparent your commission rate, the better. It helps you avoid those who want much too much and saves you time because both sides are clear.

  • We had this rule of thumb in mind when we developed our own affiliate scheme, which is incredibly amazing – if we do say so ourselves – because we offer the best payments in the business. 

And, as the first result for a long-tail term relevant to the sample niche, they’ve already proven their ability to bring organic traffic to our target demographic.

So, what’s next? Enter your information to begin a conversation. Repeat this approach until you have a small group of partners you can rely on.

As they develop your following, you should be able to gain some traction for your own affiliate page as well. This greatly simplifies our final step.

Step 3: Identify relevant influencers.

While it’s tempting to let affiliates do all of the legwork in finding you, this won’t work if you’re just starting out.

As a result, you’ll have to search them up.

Searching for blogs in your niche is one of the simplest – and cheapest – ways to locate relevant influencers. Begin by searching Google for a long-tail keyword such as “small business financial tips.

Step 4: Seize the Opportunity (Again)

The final step for a merchant, like an affiliate, is to profit from their efforts. Track your sales with plugins or your platform, continue to extend your product line, and take care of your affiliates with quick payouts.

After all, you couldn’t ask for better sellers if you treat them correctly. And don’t you want to encourage those people?

Have you ever wanted to transform your website into a money-making machine? With this course, you’ll learn what affiliate marketing is and how to get started. 


Affiliate marketing is a results-oriented kind of marketing in which an affiliate sells a product on behalf of a merchant. In exchange, the affiliate receives a percentage of the sale.

Nothing is more crucial than the relationship between affiliates and merchants. Remember that they are neither your subordinates nor your bosses in an affiliate system; they are your partners, and you help each other.

If you do it correctly, you may start a business from scratch that will pay you well.

Affiliate networks can save you a lot of time if you don’t know how to identify an affiliate or merchant to work with and want to get started as soon as possible. However, you give up control and profit, so think carefully about whether you want to do this.

As an example, many bloggers are really pleased with Amazon.

The processes to becoming an affiliate are simple:

You’ll need an audience, and it doesn’t have to be a large one. Affiliate programs have proven to be effective for both new and established sites.

Then join a program, select a product that appeals to your target market, promote the product, and profit.

The procedure is the same if you are a merchant. Begin with a niche, define the conditions of your affiliate program, identify appropriate influencers, and, of course, profit.

Last Updated on November 28, 2023


Elizabeth is a Senior Content Manager at Scaleo. Currently enjoying the life in Prague and sharing professional affiliate marketing tips. She's been in the online marketing business since 2006 and gladly shares all her insights and ideas on this blog.