What Affiliate Marketing Is and How to Start


Last Updated: April 26, 2019

What Affiliate Marketing Is and How to Start?

In this age of e-commerce and the internet, many have probably heard the term “affiliate marketing,” but do you know what affiliate marketing is and how to start?

Starting an affiliate business online opportunity and earning extra income home can improve your financial circumstances. In the purest form affiliate marketing is the connection of the advertiser, the affiliate marketer, and the consumer.


See how affiliate marketing works.


Quite plainly, advertisers think that it cost a lot less to let affiliate marketers promote the advertisers’ products or services because the affiliate marketers will advertise for them to earn commissions.  For promoting the advertisers’ products, the advertisers agree to pay the affiliate marketer a commission for driving traffic and consumers to the advertisers’ website.


The advertiser will provide the affiliate marketer with links, text ads, and banners that the marketer will incorporate into their websites. It is an excellent way to make passive income at home.  What affiliate marketing is and how to start? I hope that by the end of this article I have answered that question for you.



Most marketers don’t think about affiliate networks as being an integral part of the affiliate marketing connection.  I believe that is because not all affiliate marketing gets completed through an affiliate network.

However, there are times when an affiliate will sign up with an affiliate network to promote a bevy of products that it has for sale.  When that happens, the affiliate network acts as an intermediary between the merchants and the affiliate marketers.

There are some advertisers (merchants) who will create a network purposely to manage their affiliate marketing program.  If an affiliate wants to promote any of the merchant’s products, they must join the affiliate program under that network.

Once an affiliate is a member of the network, the marketer has the option of promoting some or all of the products in that particular affiliate network, unless otherwise indicated by the merchant.


The last and probably the most vital part of this relationship is the consumer. The consumer is the person who must take action so that it is a win-win for all parties. The consumer sees the ads on the affiliate marketer’s website.

The desired action for the consumer to take is to click on the advertiser’s link or complete their contact information via a form input.  After the consumer makes that necessary action, they are automatically moved from the marketer’s website to the advertiser’s site to complete the act that results in the purchase of a product or service by the consumer.

Completion of the desired action by the consumer is called a conversion. At this point, all parties get what they wanted. The consumer receives the product or service. The affiliate marketer earns a commission, and the advertiser makes the sale of the product or service. That, my friend, is what affiliate marketing is in a nutshell!

The Growth of Affiliate Marketing

Over the years affiliate marketing programs have become a well-built marketing tool as more and more businesses are becoming established online. Enterprises use affiliate marketers to advertise their products because it is less expensive than the standard ways of advertising.

Some research will be required to locate the best affiliate marketing training program. There are many, many programs out there, but they are not equal.

Also, you have to be very careful of those programs that claim to be cheap, but do nothing but upsell you on the tools you need to get started.

Then, there are some that are out and out dishonest scams. Do your due diligence first. I reviewed several affiliate training programs and found one that in my opinion was above all others (see my review recommendation here).

The affiliate marketer is paid a commission for their efforts to drive traffic to the business’s website, so a “conversion” can result. The affiliate will be trying to catch the attention of people who stop at their site for only a few seconds to click on the business ad.

Create a Great Website

The first move toward an affiliate marketing business is to join up with a “real” affiliate marketing training platform.  The second most crucial action is to create a content-rich website that is very enlightening and educational but at the same time easy to read. Visitors will continue to return to your site because they can count on being able to find useful information when they need it.

Earning a passive income from affiliate marketing does not happen overnight. But, it is a deliberate and steady process and will result in a decent profit.

create-a content-rich-website

Create a website to help you make passive income at home.

Whatever you do, don’t just slap a bunch of ads on a page because that sure as “shootin’” won’t please advertisers or bring traffic. You will have to consider your niche seriously.   Choose something that you have an interest in to motivate you to want to work on your site every day, if only for a couple of hours.

Take creating your website seriously. Don’t just throw everything together even when you have suitable content. The main thrust is to attract people to your site, realizing they are probably only going to be there for a few seconds! Therefore, the design of your website will have to be eye-catching, and the content must be attractive.

Building a “great” website is only the first tactic toward becoming a great affiliate marketer. As you will later learn, a great site is more than just a great design. But, you are on your way if your website is content-rich with appropriate keywords. Building a great website will help you make passive income at home.

Just becoming an affiliate marketer doesn’t assure that you will create a marketing kingdom. There are a lot of aspects that can determine your success in the affiliate marketing competition. However, there are some things that you can do to put you on the right track toward becoming a successful affiliate marketer.

Not everyone using affiliate marketing programs is generating real income.  Whether you make income, is dependent on several different aspects such as content-rich sites, how you get traffic to your website, and if you use first-rate affiliate marketing programs.  Selecting the best affiliate program to work with is a significant factor to help in the success of an online affiliate marketing business.


Building Links

There are various ways to build links for your site, but not all of them are good ones. There was a time when all you had to do was trade links with another site. If you did that enough times, you would build a strong link network.

However, Google began to take a look at these links and considered many of the traded links were not genuine. When you exchange links, it should be another site that is relevant to your website.

For instance, if my website is about hair products and I agreed to exchange links with someone who had a website about horses; Google would likely discount the association because the sites don’t relate in any way to each other. Google would consider this not to be an accepted link.

Search engines analyze links to determine the popularity of websites and pages based on how many and the popularity of the pages linking to them. They also look at spam and trust metrics. Trusted sites are inclined to link to other trusted websites.

Search engines such as Google and Bing look for specific signals to measure the value of links. The following list is not necessarily all-inclusive.

Worldwide Recognition – The more well-liked and significant a website is, the more importance placed on links from that site. To gain trust and authority with the search engines, it will probably require assistance from other well-liked link associates.

Anchor Text – This is one of the most important signals that search engines use to rank. When several to many links point to a page that contains the precise keywords, that page has a very high likelihood of ranking well for the phrase in that anchor text.

An example is with searches that use “click here.” The results will rank exclusively because of the anchor text of inbound links.


Trust Rank – There is no disbelief that the internet has enormous amounts of spam. As a method to weed out spam, search engines use a system to measure “trust.” Websites that earn links from very high trusted domains could end up with a considerable increase in this scoring system. Examples of top trusted backlinks are government, universities and non-profit organization website.

Freshness—Links can lose their value after a while because websites that may have once been popular have gotten stale. The sites are no longer obtaining any new links. The search engines term this as “FreshRank.”  The more recent links allow search engines to determine current relevance and popularity.

Social Sharing – Facebook, Google+ and Twitter have exploded during these last few years with the amount of content that we share through these avenues. Google has started to include a large number of social indicators into its search outcomes. Although they treat socially shared links different from others, they are still taking note of them.

Building links are about one of the most challenging parts of SEO’s job and are one of the most important. These are some examples of link building strategies:

• Get customers to link to your website.

• Build a business blog and make it valuable, informative and an entertaining resource.

• Build content that encourages viral sharing and natural linking.

• Be newsworthy.


Build an Email List

Email is another great marketing tool that you should not overlook.  I will admit though, that building an email list takes some effort, time, and can be overwhelming.  Here are some actions that are a must for you to get your email marketing strategies underway:

  • Build a website or a squeeze page (preferably a site).
  • Create a bonus (lead magnet) to obtain email addresses.
  • Determine topics for the email messages.
  • Write the original messages.
  • Write follow up messages.

Without building an email list, you will be leaving tons of money on the table!

Some people seem to think that building an email list is the responsibility of the merchant because the product belongs to them and the affiliate is only promoting their product.

What those people have forgotten is that as an affiliate marketer, your job is to promote the merchant’s products to obtain a conversion!  If you build an email list, you can take the bull by the horn and control your business destiny.


A lucrative email list is a valuable asset.

Having a lucrative email list is one of the most priceless assets an affiliate marketer can have.  Here’s why:

  • Your email marketing could be better than what the merchant uses.
  • You can promote any of your affiliate products whenever you want, and it won’t cost you anything extra.
  • In addition to the product they are initially searching for, people may purchase other products they see you are promoting.

Email marketing can be a continuous income-producing tool for an affiliate marketer.  Don’t bypass this effort!

Don’t make the mistake of only selling to your email list.  Give your audience 80% of useful content that is a help to your potential customers and 20% about your product sales.  That would be about four valuable content emails and then only one sales email.

Remember that your readers like to receive free content information that is helpful and it prompts them to look at your emails and not treat them as spam.  Using this method can also encourage more communication with your email subscribers.

Never Give Up

Completing affiliate marketing tasks are purposeful as well as a steady process.  It takes time.  If you create a grand content-rich website, choose the right affiliate programs, and get good page rank, but you’re still not driving enough traffic to the site right away, don’t give up.

Don’t be impatient   Double check everything in your affiliate resources toolbox that may be able to help you make corrections or improve your site.  Believe in yourself and maintain your confidence in what you are doing.

Remember that this is not a “get rich overnight” gig.  It is a real business, a real job.  Some hard work will go into an online company just as any other business has a period in the beginning when there is no income, but it slowly increases until there is a steady stream of income.  Patience will be needed.


Don’t ever give up.

Where Do You Go From Here?

An excellent marketing training program can help you build a successful affiliate business online opportunity. I found a great affiliate marketing training platform that actually did what it claimed it could do.  I learned exactly what affiliate marketing is and how to start!

There are many different techniques used in affiliate marketing that you can apply to make a significant income.   Check out my #1 training recommendation for learning how to become a successful affiliate marketer.

The best thing about it is that affiliate marketing start-up funds are low.  You can do it part-time or full-time, you don’t need a lot of computer experience, and you can work from home!  I call it a “learn as you grow experience”!

You too can learn to make passive income at home.  From here you should take the next step to get started.

Please feel free to drop me a comment below, or you can always get me at wealthyaffiliate.com (here is a link to my profile).

Founder of Your Trusted Affiliate

email: verna@momstrustedaffiliate.com



  1. Stephanie

    Hi Verna:

    Great article on what is affiliate marketing. Your diagram on the top really helps to make that clarification. When a person is starting out, it is wise to consider joining a program which will train you in the field of affiliate marketing. My favorite thus far is Wealthy Affiliate. I think many people can run the risk of being scammed by joining the wrong program and then they think the entire field of affiliate marketing is a scam which it is not – only certain training platforms are, but having a career in affiliate marketing can be very lucrative if you are patient.


    1. Verna Mason (Post author)

      Hello Stephanie,

      It’s nice to see you again. I’m glad you enjoyed the article and hope you were able to glean a few points that you can carry with you as you progress with your online business.

      Unfortunately, a few bad apples can spoil the whole barrel. The unscrupulous marketers who either scammed people out of needed funds claiming to be able to provide the sky or cheated their way to earning an income by using fraudulent means, have caused a black mark on honest affiliate markets.

      One reason that I was prompted to write another article, How to Get Rid of a Bad Reputation, was to help other affiliate marketers by showing them ways we could regain trust and improve the brand of the affiliate marketer.

      I agree with you regarding Wealth Affiliate. From my viewpoint and experience that is the the best affiliate marketing training platform I have ever come across.

      Thanks again Stephanie for taking a piece of time from your day to drop by my site. If you have anything I can help you just let me know.

  2. ProMotion8 (WA)

    I like the name of your site, you can relate to mothers who want to earn extra income while staying at home. They may feel affiliate marketing it too hard,or only for those experienced in sales or advertising. I appreciate your explaining the core of affiliate marketing: why companies like to use affiliate marketers, how we can choose a legit training program, and the role of the consumer.

    After reading this, I’m sure many moms will be willing to give affiliate marketing a try.

    1. Verna Mason (Post author)

      Thanks for visiting my site. Yes, that was my intention to be able to create an audience base for stay-at-home mothers looking for a way to own their own online business to earn an income.

      I always try to be transparent in letting people know that most anyone can become an affiliate marketer if they have a determination, patience and are motivated to succeed. That being said though, it requires a lot of hard work initially.

      Thanks again for dropping by. If there is anything I can help you with, please feel free to let me know.

      Have a great day!

  3. JeremyDavidWilson.com

    Hello Verna,

    I love the clean and well organized layout of your site as well as your bright color theme! This article was also very well written…Great Content! I really like the Visuals / Graphs you used and how you broke down your blog by sub-topic headlines.

    Here’s a question for you, What has your own personal experience been with affiliate marketing thus far? I’m just thinking that your readers may want to see some personalized info about You and your online experience….just a thought. 🙂

    Hope you have a spectacular day!

    All The Best,
    Jeremy David Wilson
    Founder of: FiredOrDenied.com

    1. Verna Mason (Post author)

      Hello Jeremy,

      Thanks for taking the time to stop by my site. I appreciate your kind observations of my website.

      I’m right with you Jeremy. I actually have an article on my pending writing list to share my experiences with affiliate marketing on my site. I wanted to wait until I had a certain amount of time in the business before I actually publish that article though. I probably won’t publish it until early 2016.

      Thanks again for taking time to review my website. Please feel free to contact me if you have more questions or if there is anything I can help you with.

      Have a great day!

  4. Roger Humbke

    Just started looking at your website and I like what I see.

    1. Verna Mason (Post author)

      Thank you Roger. There is still much to do until I am satisfied. Trying to continue to build out my content which is a never ending task for a website! Doing some outsourcing for some of the very technical stuff that is not part of my wheel house!

      Hope you keep in touch with me at my website and are able to find some influence that will help you.



  5. Anubhav

    Hello Mason, I just jumped to your blog and I find something very interesting here. Though I know about affiliate marketing but you have shown it in your style and I feel it differently presented.

    Thanks & Regards,

    1. Verna Mason (Post author)

      Hi Anubhav,

      When I got into affiliate marketing, I was taught the “basics”, but I found that there was a lot of other information that could have been shared, but was not. The bases of my website is to help others who are new to affiliate marketing. I think it is only right to share important information that will be helpful and will entice the newbie to continue on with affiliate marketing. I find that many newbies get discouraged very quickly, especially when they feel they are not getting enough detailed information to get things working correctly for them. Many of my articles were written because some of these areas I myself had difficulty gaining enough information to carry on. I struggled doing a lot of research on my own to learn the things that were not shared in my initial training.

      I hope you found the articles helpful. Please come back anytime and let me know if you have any questions I could help you with.



  6. David Chandler

    Hey Verna Mason, thanks a lot for this amazing post. I really enjoyed it and now planning to do something in Affiliate. Actually this post encourages me to do so and I am really thankful to you for this. Definitely I am gonna do something big for me, doing affiliate is a great task but we all know marketing is the main task and I am thinking to hire some outsource for this.


    1. Verna Mason (Post author)

      Hello David,

      I’m glad you found the article useful and an encouragement to take that first step you may not otherwise have taken. Affiliate Marketing is probably the easiest way to start an online business.

      Yes, marketing plays a huge roll in being successful as an affiliate marketer. It is something that must be done on a continuing basis.

      If you are serious about taking that first step into affiliate marketing, check out my honest Wealthy Affiliate review at the link below. It’s a great affiliate marketing training platform that you can join for free.


      Thanks for stopping by. Please let me know if you have any questions I can help you with. I would be glad to help out. Hope to see you around again soon.



  7. Roselyn Banks

    This article is very insightful and detailed. Thanks for this Verna, now i have superb knowledge about affiliate marketing. Cheers!!!

    1. Verna Mason (Post author)

      Hello Roselyn,

      Thanks for taking the time to check this article out. I was really glad you found it to helpful. Affiliate marketing is a great way to start on online business and Wealthy Affiliate is a very good training platform to learn. However, like any new start-up business it takes a lot of determination, motivation and patience.

      Let me know if you have any questions about it. I would be very glad to help in any way I can. Have a great weekend.



  8. Tanmay

    hey verna
    such a nice post and very informative thank you
    keep it up for the good work

    1. Verna Mason (Post author)

      Hi Tanmay,

      I’m glad you found the article to be useful. Nothing is more important when starting an affiliate marketing business than gaining a good understanding of what affiliate marketing is all about and what the process is really about.

      Are you an affiliate marketer or interested in becoming one? If you are, let me know if you have any questions I can help you with.

      Thanks for stopping by and checking out my article. Please feel free to review my other articles as well.



  9. Don Yutuc

    Awesome website, Verna! I just bookmarked it for later access! I want some ideas to adopt, but not copy exactly. Like Kyle says. – Don from WA

    1. Verna Mason (Post author)

      Hi Don,

      Thanks for the compliment on my site. Glad you have found it to be useful. When I first started I had to do a lot of research about affiliate marketing. I decided to make my first website as a means for mew marketers to get a good understanding about what affiliate marketing was really about. My goal is to be very transparent about it and not give the impression that everyone will have overnight success or become an immediate millionaire!

      I hope that my articles will give them a good start with the knowledge they will need to move forward.

      Thanks for the bookmark! Stop by anytime. Please let me know if you have any questions, I will be glad to help.



  10. Mike Long

    Hi Verna,
    I enjoyed your post and think you did a very good job explaining Affiliate Marketing. A very important industry as retail is giving way to online purchases and customers still want some level of pre purchase education and advice. The market is only going to grow from here and I think you are in a very good place !
    Regards !

    Mike Long

    1. Verna Mason (Post author)

      Hi Mike,

      Thanks for taking the time to check out my website.

      I wanted to give folks a real understanding of affiliate marketing because I have heard so many say they didn’t think it was a real business. There are many who still think that substantial income can’t be made as an affiliate marketer. Of course those people are probably the ones who didn’t have the determination to see it through before they quit.

      Many of my articles are for new comers. I always think about what some of my questions were when I started and I try to answer those questions for new marketers to help give them a “kick start”.

      Thanks again for stopping by and don’t be a stranger. Let me know if I can help in any way. I don’t know all the answers, but I give it a good try.


  11. Melissa Hazlett

    Hi Verna.
    Thank you so much for all of this great information. I know I have been studying a little more on linking and how to properly link. I try very hard to find high ranked sites that are in the same content as my posts. But honestly I have not even thought about making sure to keep it fresh. This is something I for sure will be checking up on from time to time. Thank you so much for your help.

    1. Verna Mason (Post author)

      Hi Melissa,

      Thanks for dropping by. Many times we are so busy we forget to keep an eye on our links. I have to admit I’m guilty of that too!

      You are on the right track by trying to find high ranking authority sites to link to. I’m glad you found the article helpful.

      Stop by any time. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions I can help you with.



  12. Thomas Tedesco

    That is a trusted well written….. right from the heart story. It was simple and very informative. Yes, a job was well done with sincerity. There are many people who could benefit financially by following your opinions and conclusions…..Thanks…..

    1. Verna Mason (Post author)

      Hello Thomas,

      I’m glad you found this article informative and useful. I try to help newcomers to the world of affiliate marketing.

      Please stop by any time. Let me know if there is anything I can help you with.

      Thanks for taking the time to check out my article. Looking forward to seeing you here more.



  13. smadav 2019

    very helpful content!! thank you for updating:)

    1. Verna Mason (Post author)


      Thanks for taking time out of your busy day to review my article. I apologize for this late response, but I am just returning back to WA after a long absence due to life events and illness. I have a lot of catching up to do now that I’m back in the saddle again!

      I’m glad you found my article helpful. Feel free to contact me if i can help you with anything. Hope all is well with your online business!


  14. Gary

    Great article full of great content you really seem to have a lot of experience I will take everything you said and take note of it.I’m very newto all of this amd need all the help I can ge.

    1. Verna Mason (Post author)

      Thanks Gary! Glad to hear you found the article useful. All marketers were new at one time! I know just how you feel, but it gets better!

      Hope you get a chance to check out some of my other articles. Sop by anytime!



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