what is affiliate marketing and how does it work

What Is Affiliate Marketing And How Does It Work?

It is considered to be one of the best ways to make money online but really, what is affiliate marketing and how does it work?

Affiliate marketing is a system whereby an online marketer, called an affiliate or associate, promotes products of another person or organization and earns commissions for every successful sale of those products.

sale-1015710_1920The affiliate does not have to have products of his own, instead, he or she functions as a sales and marketing arm of that person or organization, connecting the buyer with the owner of the goods, earning money in the process as the affiliate makes a sale. Products that affiliates promote vary from physical products to digital products to online learning systems.

There are several product owners out there who, instead of hiring a sales and marketing team to promote and sell their products, opt instead to create an affiliate program and engage affiliates to do the selling for them.  They have found this marketing system more cost effective and easier to manage and maintain.  In fact most products that are selling online have affiliate programs that people who want to make money online can leverage.

And today, countless affiliates are earning good money from their affiliate marketing activities, often enough to make a full time living out of it.


How does it work?

When you become an affiliate for a product, owners of that product will usually provide you with a set of tools that you will need in your promotional and selling activities.

affiliate marketing what is itOne of most important tools that you will get is an affiliate code which you, as an affiliate, can use to refer customers to the product owner’s website.   All you have to do as an affiliate is to embed your links with your affiliate code.

Your affiliate code is unique so that crediting of a sale to you is not a problem. When a prospective buyer clicks on your link, the action takes him or her to the product owner’s website and any purchase that the he or she makes shall be credited to you as an affiliate, resulting in money in your pocket. Tracking is done through cookies.

Some affiliate programs also offer training and support, making your affiliate marketing experience a more rewarding one.

So what is a cookie?

what is a cookie

In simple terms, a cookie is a small file which is stored in a computer’s browser directory.  A website uses  cookies to track it’s visitor’s movements such as movements within the site, the last page that visitor visited, and any information that the visitor left on the website.

A cookie is created whenever a visitor visits that website and the cookie is stored on the visitor’s computer.  The next time he or she visits the same website the cookie created on his or her first visit enables the website to remember that visitor’s information.

The life of a cookie is set at the time of creation.  By default cookies expires as soon as the visitor’s web browser is closed.  But the creator of the cookie can set it up in such a way that the cookie is in effect for whatever period of time the creator set it up to be.

How are cookies important to affiliate marketing?

Let’s say you are an affiliate for a product on Amazon and you have a site that reviews that product.  Being an affiliate you will be provided an affiliate code by Amazon which you will be embedding in your site review links.

When someone visits your site and clicks on one of your links, a cookie is created in that visitor’s computer.   When that visitor is taken to the product’s page on Amazon, the cookie will then keep track of that visitor’s movements.  And when that visitor makes a purchase, you as an affiliate are then credited with the corresponding commission for the sale.

wealthy affiliate

Amazon cookies are made to last for only 24 hours so that only purchases made by that visitor in the 24 hour span gets credited to you.  But other affiliate programs set up their cookies for a longer period of time, some for 30 days, some for a year, and the duration really depends on the merchant creating the cookie.

Other affiliate programs offer recurring commissions, meaning you get a commission for the initial sale and for every repeat sale for a particular buyer. One good example is the affiliate program offered by Wealthy Affiliate.  Wealthy Affiliate offers not only one of the best affiliate programs but also an excellent training platform so that members and affiliates are properly guided and are able to maximize their earnings potential.  You can even opt to be a member for free and still take advantage of their training.  Try Wealthy Affiliate for free here.



So why should you become an Affiliate Marketer?

what is affiliate marketing and how does it workOne of the main advantages that getting into affiliate marketing brings is that it enables you to get up and running in the fastest possible time and start making money online.  Because you do not have to have to create your own products, you can start marketing immediately, and thus, fast track your chances of making a sale.

And since you do not have your own products, you do not have to worry about inventory control, order processing and monitoring, and payments management as these are all done by the owner of the product.

Affiliate marketing is a cost-effective way of doing business as costs are minimal, mainly for maintaining your website and promotional activities that do not cost an arm and a leg to implement.

As an affiliate marketer you get to choose which products you will promote and sell.  You can make your choices depending on your interests and the earnings targets that you set for yourself.  Since different affiliate programs offer different commission structures you can choose only those that meet your earnings criteria.

affiliate marketing what is itYou are in control and are your own boss.  You set your own goals and you steer your own course; and your earnings will really depend on how much effort you put into it.  Your earnings potential is really unlimited.

You get to earn passive income.  Once you get your website and promotional strategies in place, then all you have to do is maintain your sites and implement your strategies and wait for the commissions to pile up.

And since all your business activities are done online, you get freedom of movement and you can be anywhere in the world and still be on top of your business.  

Want to see how affiliate marketing works for free? Learn for free here.

Let me know your thoughts about this by leaving a comment below. I would love to hear what you think about  this.

All for now.

8 thoughts on “What Is Affiliate Marketing And How Does It Work?

  1. You site is very informative. I like that you put your action link in a normal spot and then moved on. I learn some valuable information from you on the posts. Thank you.

  2. Hi Kathy,

    nice website and a very good article about affiliate marketing. Great information for people who get in touch with affiliate marketing. There is one thing i recognized while reading your article. The main text is written in grey color. That can hurt your eyes when you have longer articles. I would recommend to change it to black. That is much more friendly for the eyes.

    Keep up the good work!

    Cheers, M@rkus

  3. A really informative post.
    I like your explanation of the importance of cookies, as I do think many people don’t pay enough attention to this important aspect of the process.

    1. Yes John. That is specifically why I included this portion on cookies. Understanding what cookies are and how they work is an essential part of affiliate marketing. Besides being responsible for tracking the whole marketing process, from the time a potential customer clicks our links to the time that that customer converts to a buyer, the tracking system in cookies also allows for proper commissions crediting to the affiliate, which is really the essence of affiliate marketing.

  4. Hi Kathy,
    The thing I love about Affiliate Marketing is there’s no stock to purchase and hold. No packaging and postage to sort and no hassle with returns either. You can wholly concentrate on attracting visitors into your website which does require time and effort yet this way you have the time to accomplish your goals.
    Thanks for your informative post,

    1. I agree with you Simon. With Affiliate Marketing, you do not hav to worry about logistical matters allowing you to focus on marketing and promotion. All you need is a sound online marketing foundation and be equipped with the right tools and strategies and you’re good to go. Thanks for dropping by my site.

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