The Beginners Affiliate Marketing Guide. 6 Must Know Affiliate Basics to Jumpstart Your Online Income Journey.

A poster with the words How to Start Affiliate Marketing with no money or experience. Used in the article "the beginners affiliate marketing guide.
Point Zero.

Affiliate marketing – your ticket to mastering an online income stream! Whether you’re a tech enthusiast, a fashion aficionado, or a wellness advocate, the world of affiliate marketing welcomes you. This affiliate marketing guide for beginners, is about setting you up on a path to forge your own prosperous trail in affiliate marketing.

This is part one of a series. The links for the rest are at the bottom of this article.

First up. You need to decide whether your affiliate marketing efforts is going to be a hobby or a service.

If it is a hobby, then it probably doesn’t really matter when you go live with a website.

If you are treating as a business then, you may want to hold off on going live with a website until you have reviewed this and the following pages.

That way you can build a plan, get your ducks lined up and start earning money sooner.

Let’s start at the beginning and dive into these 6 important lessons.

  1. Definition of affiliate marketing
  2. Growing popularity and potential for beginner affiliate marketers
  3. Importance of understanding the basics
  4. The different commission structures
  5. Staying Updated and Adapting
  6. Risk Management.

1. Definition of Affiliate Marketing.

An image of a dictionary page showing the word definition, used in the article, The beginners Guide to Affiliate Marketing.
Image by PDPics from Pixabay

Affiliate marketing is a type of performance-based marketing strategy where businesses or individuals, known as affiliates, promote products or services made by another company (the advertiser or merchant) through various online channels.

Affiliates earn a commission or a percentage of the sales they generate for the advertiser’s products or services.

In affiliate marketing, affiliates will often be given unique tracking links or codes to identify their referrals and track their performance.

These links allow the advertiser to accurately attribute sales or actions back to the specific affiliate who referred the customer.

How are Affiliates Paid?

Affiliate’s earnings are based on a predetermined agreement between the affiliate and the advertiser, which can be based on various factors such as a % of sales, clicks, leads, or other desired actions. More on that below.

Affiliate marketing is commonly employed in e-commerce, as it allows businesses to expand their reach and sales without investing heavily in traditional advertising methods.

It’s a win-win situation, where the affiliate earns a commission for driving sales or actions, and the advertiser benefits from increased exposure and revenue.

A poster showing the top benefits of affiliate marketing. Used in the article "the beginners affiliate marketing guide.
Affiliate Marketing benefits. Image sourced from Pinterest.

2. The Growing Popularity and Potential for Beginner Affiliate Marketers

Often mentioned as a great way to earn income working from home, here are 8 other reasons why many choose affiliate marketing over other forms of online marketing.

  1. Low Barrier to Entry: It is appealing to beginners because it typically requires low upfront costs. You don’t need to create your own products or services, deal with customer support, or manage inventory.
  2. Wide Range of Niches: The affiliate marketing industry covers a vast array of niches and industries. This diversity allows beginners to choose a niche that aligns with their interests or expertise.
  3. Training and Resources: There are numerous online resources, courses, and communities available to help beginners learn the ropes of affiliate marketing. These resources can provide valuable guidance on strategies, best practices, and how to effectively promote products.
  4. Affiliate Programs: Many companies and brands offer affiliate programs that allow beginners to partner with established companies. These programs often provide marketing materials, tracking tools, and support to help affiliates succeed.
  5. Passive Income Potential: Once you’ve set up your affiliate links and marketing strategies, you can potentially earn passive income as long as your links continue to generate sales or actions.
  6. Digital Marketing Skills: Engaging in affiliate marketing can also provide beginners with valuable digital marketing skills, including content creation, SEO (search engine optimization), social media marketing, email marketing, and more.
  7. Rapidly Evolving Landscape: The online marketing landscape is constantly evolving, with new platforms, tools, and strategies emerging regularly. Staying up-to-date with these changes is crucial for affiliate marketers to remain competitive. Although there is still room for more development AI is making its presence felt.
  8. Competition: While there are opportunities, it’s worth noting that the popularity of affiliate marketing means there’s also increased competition. Beginners need to be prepared to put in the effort to stand out and effectively promote products.

3. Importance of Understanding the Basics of Affiliate Marketing.

A white board with the text 10 reasons why understanding the affiliate marketing basics is important. Used in the article "the beginners affiliate marketing guide.
Attention please.

Understanding the basics of affiliate marketing is important, especially if you’re seriously contemplating becoming involved in this type of online business model.

Affiliate marketing is a strategy where you promote products or services from other companies and earn a commission for each sale or action generated through your referral links.

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Compliance and ethics play a part.

Here are 10 reasons why understanding the affiliate basics is important:

  1. Foundation for Success: Just like any endeavor, having a solid understanding of the basics sets you up for success. It allows you to make informed decisions, develop effective strategies, and troubleshoot problems as they arise.
  2. Efficient Resource Allocation: Understanding affiliate marketing basics helps you allocate your time, effort, and resources effectively. You can focus on the right strategies and platforms that align with your goals and target audience.
  3. Strategy Development: A strong grasp of affiliate marketing fundamentals enables you to develop a comprehensive and effective strategy. You can identify the best products or services to promote, select appropriate platforms, and create compelling content that resonates with your audience.
  4. Choosing the Right Programs: Not all affiliate programs are created equal. When you understand the basics, you can evaluate and select affiliate programs that offer fair commissions, reliable tracking systems, quality products, and good support.
  5. Compliance and Ethics: There are legal and ethical considerations in affiliate marketing, such as disclosing your affiliate relationship, adhering to advertising guidelines, and promoting products honestly. Understanding the basics helps you navigate these issues appropriately.
  6. Building Trust: Successful affiliate marketers build a loyal audience. By this I mean, they build out content without any selling intent. That will come later after they have gained some authority with Google and have an engaged audience. Do about 30-40 posts before thinking about adding appropriate affiliate links.
  7. Tracking and Analytics: Effective tracking and analytics are crucial in affiliate marketing. Understanding these basics enables you to monitor your performance, optimize your campaigns, and make data-driven decisions.
  8. Adapting to Changes: The digital landscape and affiliate marketing trends evolve over time. A strong foundational knowledge allows you to adapt to changes, such as shifts in algorithms, new marketing platforms, or changes in consumer behavior.
  9. Avoiding Pitfalls: Without a grasp of the basics, you might fall into common pitfalls, such as spammy marketing tactics, promoting low-quality products, or failing to optimize your campaigns for conversions.
  10. Maximizing Earnings: At the end of the day, understanding the basics of affiliate marketing helps you maximize your earnings. By applying effective strategies, you can increase the likelihood of generating sales and earning commissions.

While understanding the basics is crucial, affiliate marketing, like any business endeavor, requires ongoing learning, testing, and adaptation.

As it evolves, staying up-to-date with the latest trends and algorithm changes is necessary to keep the revenue coming in.

While all that may sound daunting, there are platforms that will lead you through these processes in a logical coherent way, combining lessons with exercises, videos showing real time examples, podcasts, along with details on algorithm changes and AI tutorials.

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Your new friend. ?

4. Understanding Affiliate Commissions.

The choice of commission structure depends on the goals of the merchant and the affiliates. Merchants need to consider their profit margins, product pricing, and marketing budget, while affiliates need to assess which structure aligns best with their strengths and promotional methods.

Different Affiliate Commission Structures.

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PPC Marketing

The commission structures commonly used in affiliate marketing are:

  1. Pay-Per-Sale (PPS) or Cost-Per-Sale (CPS): This is the most common commission structure. Affiliates earn a percentage or fixed amount of the sale price when a customer referred by the affiliate makes a purchase. For example, if an affiliate promotes a $100 product with a 10% commission rate, they would earn $10 for each sale generated through their affiliate link.
  2. Pay-Per-Click (PPC): Affiliates are paid based on the number of clicks generated through their affiliate links, regardless of whether the referred user makes a purchase. This model focuses on driving traffic to the merchant’s site rather than actual sales. PPC affiliate programs are less common due to the potential for abuse (e.g., click fraud).
  3. Pay-Per-Lead (PPL) or Cost-Per-Lead (CPL): Affiliates earn a commission when their referred users take a specific action, such as signing up for a newsletter, filling out a contact form, or downloading a whitepaper. This model is often used by companies looking to capture potential leads for their sales funnel.
  4. Tiered Commission Structure: Some affiliate programs offer tiered commissions, where affiliates earn different commission rates based on their performance. For example, an affiliate might earn a higher commission percentage once they reach a certain number of sales.
  5. Recurring Commissions: With this structure, affiliates continue to earn commissions for as long as the referred customer remains a paying subscriber. This is common in subscription-based services like web hosting or software-as-a-service (SaaS).
  6. Two-Tier Affiliate Programs: In addition to earning commissions for their own sales, affiliates can also earn a smaller commission for sales generated by affiliates they refer to the program. This encourages affiliates to recruit others into the program.
  7. Hybrid Models: Some affiliate programs combine multiple commission structures. For instance, an affiliate might earn a fixed amount for each lead generated and a percentage of the sale, if that lead converts into a paying customer.

5. Staying Updated and Adapting.

Although affiliate marketing is a “work from home” profession, there can be a tendency to submit to complacency after making a few sales.

Staying updated and being adaptable are important qualities and actions that individuals or businesses participating in affiliate marketing should review often.

Here’s a breakdown of what these phrases mean in the context of affiliate marketing:

1. Stay Updated: Staying updated means keeping yourself informed about the latest trends, developments, and changes in the affiliate marketing industry.

This can include staying current with change in algorithms, policies, technologies, and consumer behavior.

Affiliate marketing constantly evolves, so it’s essential to be on the lookout for new strategies, tools, and best practices.

2. Be Adaptable: Adapting refers to the ability to adjust and modify your strategies, approaches, and tactics based on changes in the market and the affiliate landscape.

As the digital world changes rapidly, what works today might not be effective tomorrow.

Be open to change, experiment with new approaches, and be willing to pivot if necessary.

This could involve changing your content strategy, exploring different affiliate programs, adjusting your promotional methods, or expanding your target audience based on the evolving trends

A pinned sheet of paper with the word Update in strong black text. Used in the article, The Beginners Affiliate Marketing Guide.
Staying in front of the curve.

The Benefits for Affiliate marketers who stay updated and are adaptable make them better positioned to:

  • React to Algorithm Changes: Search engines and social media platforms often update their algorithms, which can affect how content is ranked and displayed. Staying in the loop helps affiliates adjust their content and strategies to align with these changes.
  • Leverage New Technologies: New tools and technologies can provide more efficient ways to track, manage, and optimize affiliate campaigns. Staying informed about these innovations can improve your overall direction with content.
  • Respond to Consumer Behavior: Consumer preferences and behaviors do shift over time. By staying updated, affiliates can align their strategies with what their target audience wants, ensuring that their content and promotions remain relevant.
  • Stay Compliant: Affiliate marketing is subject to various regulations and policies. Staying updated helps affiliates ensure they are compliant with these rules to avoid any legal or ethical issues.
  • Maintain Competitiveness: The affiliate marketing arena is competitive. Adapting to changing trends and customer demands allows affiliates to stand out and maintain their competitive edge.

Why do so Many Fail at Affiliate Marketing?

There is only one answer.

Like all digital earn online, work from home programs, MLMs, drop shipping, copywriting etc. there are only a small percentage of people who dedicate themselves to the task who go onto make decent money.

For many others “Life sort of gets in the way,” or after a short trial, they decide it is not for them.

Typical of many things we do I guess.

6. Risk Management:

As we all should know, risk cannot be completely eliminated, but it can be managed and mitigated.

By implementing these strategies, beginning affiliate marketers can reduce potential negative impacts on their business and increase their chances of long-term success.

  1. Quality Affiliate Programs: Choose reputable and trustworthy affiliate programs. Research the companies you’re considering affiliating with to ensure they have a solid reputation, reliable payment history, and fair terms. Avoid programs that have a history of not paying affiliates or engaging in unethical practices.
  2. Due Diligence: Thoroughly research the products or services you’re promoting. Make sure they align with your target audience’s needs and preferences. Promoting low-quality or irrelevant products can damage your credibility and reputation.
  3. Disclosure and Transparency: Clearly disclose your affiliate relationships to your audience. This builds trust and helps you comply with legal requirements, such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines in the United States. Failing to disclose your affiliate partnerships could lead to legal consequences and damage your reputation.
  4. Ethical Promotion: Avoid deceptive or misleading advertising tactics. Make sure your marketing content is accurate and provides genuine value to your audience. Misleading promotions can lead to customer complaints, legal issues, and damage to your brand’s reputation.


An no B/S video about affiliate marketing can be seen here.


Is affiliate marketing hard for beginners?

While you won’t need to outlay money, what you will need to get started is time. Affiliate marketing is a skilled craft, and learning the ropes can be a slow, hard slog. So be prepared to devote a lot of time, rather than a lot of money, at the start of your affiliate career.

What is the hardest part of affiliate marketing?

The challenges of affiliate marketing include the need to build a large and engaged audience, and the need to continually adapt to changes in the market and the products and services being promoted. Selecting an evergreen niche overcomes this.

Is affiliate marketing still profitable?

Yes, affiliate marketing is still profitable and will be long after 2023. To earn a profit through affiliate marketing, you will need products that your audience is willing to buy, and quality content that ranks on the search engines.


You should now have a good understanding of what affiliate marketing is, and the importance of risk management and being adaptable.

As well as an understanding of the varies payment models.

It is important to remember that affiliate marketing is not an overnight get rich quick scheme.

It does have great potential for creating a passive income stream, which can last for years.

The rider of course is that you need to remain consistent.

Wealthy Affiliate is a good platform that has been operating for years, and stay’s up to date with the latest trends and technologies, thereby easing your workload, and letting you concentrate on making money.

They also have a ton of resources and dynamic communities to help and provide encouragement on your affiliate journey.

Disclosure: I have an affiliation with Wealthy Affiliate and this article contains affiliate links from which I may receive a commission at no cost to you should you purchase something from a link.

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