What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is the practice of paying content creators to promote a website, product, or service for the benefit of another business. The business will pay the affiliate marketer for the new business that they bring in.

Affiliate marketers help businesses increase their audience reach and target specific audiences based on the content that they read. So, how does affiliate marketing work exactly?

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Types of Affiliate Marketing

Depending on the type of content you create, you can incorporate affiliate marketing in a few different ways, including:

1. Website Content

Some websites make money by marketing for businesses that are related to their industry. For instance, a site that informs readers of the best tourist spots may be an affiliate for a specific airline or chain of hotels.

2. Blogging

Blogging is one of the most popular types of affiliate marketing online today. Affiliate marketers with popular blogs can work with businesses that their audience cares about, and they may even be able to work out exclusive deals and coupon codes for their specific audience.

3. Coupon Sites

TechBargains is an excellent example of a coupon site that runs on affiliate marketing. Sites like this create partnerships with a variety of businesses to help them promote their product on a third-party site. When customers shop for a new product on TechBargains, they can compare products and deals. Businesses want to make sure their product is represented on these sites.

4. Email Marketing

Links to products or services can be included in email newsletters and lists. If an affiliate marketer’s business is based solely on an emailing list, they can feature a product or service from the brand they’re partnering with.

5. Social Media

Social media is a great place for affiliate marketing when the affiliate already has many followers. This can be done on just about any platform and is a common way for the world’s most popular influencers to make a living today.

This list includes only a few popular types of affiliate marketing. If you’re interested in becoming an affiliate marketer, you can use just about any content that you publish for your audience regularly.

Pros and Cons of Affiliate Marketing


Affiliate marketing is an increasingly popular tool for marketing teams. By 2020, the industry is expected to grow to $6.8 billion. Fun fact: the most successful affiliate marketer of 2017 reported making $7 million.

While you likely won’t be a millionaire in your first year as an affiliate marketer, there’s a lot of money to be made, and it’s a great form of passive income. Once you’ve published the content, you can earn money every day no matter where you are or what you’re doing.


Affiliate marketing can be a difficult industry to break into if you don’t already have an online following. Unfortunately, you can’t start a blog today and expect to earn money tomorrow—it takes time. You must work to grow your audience and then build affiliate marketing partnerships with businesses.

This industry is also quite competitive. According to AM Navigator, 18.7 percent of affiliate marketers are trying to sell something in the fashion industry; so while the payment per click or per sale is typically high, you may see fewer clicks and sales because the market is so saturated.

How to Start Affiliate Marketing

If you’re interested in becoming an affiliate marketer, consider which products or services may interest your audience. Then pursue partnerships with businesses that offer those things.

Many businesses, such as Amazon, will have a dedicated page for applying to be an affiliate. Once you’ve found your partnership, start creating content!

How Do Affiliate Marketers Get Paid?

The way you get paid as an affiliate marketer depends on the product or service you sell and the business that you work with. Most businesses tend to pay one of three ways:

1. Per Click

The business will give you a link to share with your audience. You get paid every time someone clicks that link.

2. Per Sale

Every time someone from your audience clicks your link and makes a purchase, a percentage of the sale will go to you.

3. Per Lead

When someone clicks your link and completes an action, like downloading software, a white paper, or signing up for a free trial, you get paid.

Job Responsibilities of Affiliate Marketing Professionals

As an affiliate marketer, you must be able to discern how affiliate marketing works on your own with little to no support. Be prepared to analyze what kind of content is working well and what isn’t. Self-motivation to create content regularly is key to seeing a steady income.

As an affiliate marketing manager, you also must find recruits that will connect with your target audience. Evaluate the content being created by your affiliates so you can monitor which partnerships are serving your business well and which aren’t.

5 Tips for Becoming a Successful Affiliate Marketer

  1. Be a Self-starter

    Publish fresh, relevant content regularly to keep your audience interested.
  2. Monitor Your Success

    If your link garnered a lot of clicks, publish similar content in the future.
  3. Add Value to Your Audience

    Don’t be an affiliate simply because the business pays well. Be an affiliate because your audience cares about the product or service you’re sharing.
  4. Choose Products You Believe In

    Your audience will be able to spot a phony sales pitch, and it may hurt your reputation to recommend low-quality products.
  5. Evolve Your Strategy 

    Continue to change your affiliate marketing strategy as the industry changes. Stay up-to-date on new trends.

The State of Affiliate Marketing

In January of 1996, one of the first patents for online affiliate marketing was granted, and it’s been changing the way we market products online ever since.

Today, Amazon is one of the largest and most popular affiliate marketing companies because of its wide array of products and services. In 2020, the affiliate marketing industry is projected to grow another 10 percent, which means it’s not too late for you to jump into this marketing trend.

Are you skilled enough for your next marketing career? Well, try asnwering these Digital Marketing MCQs and find out!

Learn How to Become an Affiliate Marketer Today

If you’re interested in learning more about how affiliate marketing works, consider enrolling in Simplilearn’s Digital Marketing Certified Associate Certification Training. We help working professionals like you achieve their career goals, offering more than 40 hours of lessons via video, online mentoring sessions, and exam preparation for the most widely-recognized certifications in the field.

Digital and affiliate marketing are some of the world’s fastest-growing disciplines, and our certification course will raise your value in the marketplace. Learn all about the types of affiliate marketing and how you can start earning money today!

About the Author


Simplilearn is one of the world’s leading providers of online training for Digital Marketing, Cloud Computing, Project Management, Data Science, IT, Software Development, and many other emerging technologies.

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